Starting with her classic debut album, 1969’s First Take, Roberta Flack has carved out a career filled with massive radio and chart hits, countless awards (including four Grammys), and worldwide critical acclaim for her singing and peerless musicianship. Her iconic catalogue includes “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” “Jesse,” “Feel Like Making Love,” “Where is the Love?,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “The Closer I Get to You,” “Back Together Again,” and so many more.
The steadfastness of Roberta’s trailblazing artistry is visible with a new generation of innovative artists who celebrate her influence: Lauryn Hill, who famously covered “Killing Me Softly” with her former group, the Fugees, and kick-started her own dazzling solo career; R&B romantic icon Maxwell, with whom Ms. Flack performed a show-stopping version of her classic hit “Where is the Love” on the 2010 Grammys; and revered underground hip-hop producer Flying Lotus, who created a fan-favorite track titled “Roberta Flack,” in tribute to the lady herself.
Robert’s newest album Let It Be is a collection of Beatles #1 hits as interpreted through Roberta. Much beloved tracks such as “Hey Jude” and first the single “We Can Work It Out” showcase a playful expressiveness which serves to draw out the poignancy of the lyrics. But there is also an undercurrent of melancholy in “We Can Work It Out” which underscores the fact that the song’s message is needed as much today as when it was first released – maybe even more, now, as the world convulses with conflicts all around the globe. And on “In My Life”, Roberta conveys the elegiac, paradoxically, through a joyful celebration of that which has passed – friendships, transformative relationships and, of course, that one true and seminal love. Lilting guitar threads through a world-music inflected overhaul of the melody, which retains (and in its own way underscores) the wistfulness of the original.
According to Roberta, “I’d like to think that my producers and I found some new directions and new meanings. I think that’s the sign of a good interpreter of music. I didn’t write these wonderful songs, of course, I’m only expressing what I feel about them. And what I feel about them – hopefully – is universal enough that people will say, ‘Yeah.’