Roberta Flack in 1971. Image from CMS-Creative Management Associates John Levy.

Seventies Performer Roberta Flack, Native of Black Mountain

On February 10, 1937, Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and pianist Roberta Flack was born in Black Mountain.

The daughter of two pianists, Flack herself began playing piano at age 9 and was heavily influenced by the sound and style of gospel music. She graduated high school at 15 and received a bachelor’s degree in music education from Howard University. The unexpected death of her father in 1959 prompted Flack to enter the field of education in order to support her family. Her first teaching job brought her to Farmville, where she taught English and music at an African American school.

Flack continued to pursue music on the side and secured her big break in 1968 when jazz pianist Les McCann sent a copy of one of her performances to Atlantic Records. Flack released her first studio album, First Take, with Atlantic Records in 1969. The album initially failed to chart but the subsequent exposure of her music on television and in film pushed Flack to the top of the Billboard 200 and garnered a Grammy in 1972.

In all, Flack has won four Grammy awards and her album 1973 Killing Me Softly was certified double platinum.

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Image from CMS-Creative Management Associates/John Levy.

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