Segments in this Video

Roberta Flack: Introduction (02:00)


Flack was one of the biggest selling female pop stars in 1973. This segment orients viewers to Flack's musical style and rise to success.

"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (03:29)

Flack's song appeared in the movie "Play Misty for Me." The ballad introduced a "new brand of soul"; Flack describes performing the song.

Flack's Upbringing (03:31)

Flack, one of four children was born in the segregated South in 1937 and lived in a middle class suburb. The Macedonia Baptist Church was the heart of the community and gospel music was the heart of the church.

Roots of Flack's Brand of Soul (02:37)

Flack attended Lomax AME Methodist Church; she often played the piano in choir. Hear "Come Ye Disconsolate."

Hoffman-Boston High School (02:04)

In school, Flack excelled at classical piano and voice. Experts discuss staffing and educational aspirations.

Segregated Schools (03:47)

Flack studied classical music at Howard University and distinguished her talents. The Brown v. Board of Education case banned segregation during her first year of study.

"Never Dreamed You Leave in Summer" (02:20)

Experts discuss Flack's technique for self-accompaniment. Segregation marred Flack's pursuit of a classical career; she taught music in the public school system.

Civil Rights Movement (04:12)

After the March on Washington, the government ended segregation; Flack continued to teach. In 1968, Flack began performing at Mr. Henry's. Musicians recall hearing Flack perform.

"Sunday and Sister Jones" (02:52)

Flack enjoyed singing with her eyes closed and leading the audience. Les McCann recorded Flack and took it to Atlantic Records.

"First Take" (03:42)

Flack released her first album in 1969; it was not part of black politics. Flack's music expressed her opinions; hear "Compared to What."

Eugene McDaniels (02:59)

Flack used work from songwriter McDaniels. Many black song writers created intellectual music. Hear "Tryin' Times."

Reaching Stardom (03:38)

In 1972, "If Ever I Saw Your Face" appeared in Clint Eastwood's directorial debut; it was the biggest selling single of the year. Flack followed the hit with "Killing Me Softly with His Song."

Flack's Critics (03:52)

Many considered Flack's music very "white." The dawn of the women's movement made the personal political. Hear "Reverend Lee."

Feelings of Blackness (03:45)

In the 1970s, black consciousness was the byword; hear "The Ghetto." Flack and Donny Hathaway produced a duet album that expressed the feelings of black America; hear "Be Real Black for Me."

Flack's Personal Life (02:17)

Flack's first husband was her Caucasian bass player. Flack reflects on music reflecting her life.

"Going Down to the River" (04:51)

Flack worked long days in the recording studio; she had an exacting nature. In 1974, Flack recorded "Feel Like Makin' Love;" it resonated with the black middle class. The growing class drove a wedge in black tradition.

1980s Music (03:25)

Flack's music prominently featured on Quiet Storm. Experts contrast her soothing music to the upheaval of inner city life. Flack recorded "Tonight I celebrate my Love" with Peabo Bryson.

Hip Hop v. R&B (03:04)

In the 1980s, hip hop caused a rift in African American music. In 1996, Lauren Hill united music styles in a version of "Killing Me Softly With His Song."

Credits: Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly (00:47)

Credits: Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly

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Roberta Flack: Killing Me Softly

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In the 1970s Roberta Flack became a global sensation with hits such as The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Feel Like Making Love, and Killing Me Softly. Her style of soulful pop transcended the U.S. East Coast jazz clubs to become the dinner party sound track for Middle America. But behind this seemingly effortless career rise lies a much deeper, more substantial journey. Born into humble circumstances in America's segregated South, Roberta was a self-created musical prodigy who was one of the first and most significant black artists to cross over into the mainstream. This film follows Roberta's journey from her childhood in Arlington, Virginia in the 1930s and 40s, to the jazz clubs of Washington D.C. where Roberta honed her style, to the moment she signed up with Atlantic Records and became a multi-Grammy Award-winning star. It is a deeply personal story told alongside the wider context of America's civil rights movement, a struggle that was to strike a chord all over the world. A BBC Production.

Length: 60 minutes

Item#: BVL86545

ISBN: 978-1-68272-037-0

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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