For Immediate Release May 13, 2016
Roberta Flack Postpones Tour, Releases ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’
As First Entry In New ‘Secret Stash’ Vintage-Tracks Series
Beloved singer plans monthly offerings
from recently discovered trove of decades-old live recordings
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Unfortunately for Roberta Flack fans who had hoped to hear her in concert this summer, she has an announcement to make. “I recently fell,” she reports, “and I am rehabbing and healing, and need more time than I’d hoped to be ready to perform. As such, I am postponing my summer concerts.”
But Flack still has treats in store for those fans, some of whom have fervently followed her since she first began building her monumental catalog of timeless soul, jazz, folk and pop classics, including “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly with His Song.” It turns out her two dozen-plus albums contain a mere sampling of all the songs she’s recorded; she recently discovered a treasure trove of live recordings dating back to the beginning of her 48-year career.
Unearthed during the consolidation of several storage spaces, the tapes turned out to hold so much vintage gold, Flack decided she had to share. Through her new Secret Stash series, she plans to release digital tracks in the upcoming year. The first is her exquisite rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
“‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ is a song that I sing about how all of us are connected in the world,” says Flack. “Regardless of our race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, we are the Earth’s family. We have big issues that face us as citizens of the world, and I believe that music can connect and heal us all through troubled times.”
Flack’s manager, Suzanne Koga, says the find was a complete surprise. “We were going through some stuff and way in the very back of one of the storage containers, we came across hundreds of reels,” she says. Only five of the unlabeled reels have been reviewed so far. Already, 12 tracks have been selected for restoration and release. “Hopefully,” says Koga, “there will be many more to come.”
It seems these songs were captured at Mr. Henry’s, the still-existing Washington, D.C., nightclub where Flack played piano and sang several nights a week to supplement her job as a middle-school English and choir teacher. A classically trained pianist, she accompanied the club’s singer until the vocalist took sick one night. Flack was asked if she could fill in. Soon, celebrities flocked to the club to hear her beautifully expressive voice. When jazz singer and pianist Les McCann heard her, he took her to New York to audition for Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun, who signed her immediately.
Simon & Garfunkel originally released the single and same-titled album on Jan. 26, 1970. Both the album and its title track won multiple Grammys, and the song has become one of the most popular in pop music history; Rolling Stone ranks it at No. 48 on its “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list.
Flack will release details about upcoming Secret Stash tracks and announce rescheduled concert dates in the near future.
About Roberta Flack
Born in North Carolina and raised in Arlington, Virginia, four-time Grammy winner Roberta Flack began playing piano at age 9, and by 15, had earned a full scholarship to Howard University. After graduating with a music education degree at 19, she taught school by day and performed by night. Her first big hit after signing with Atlantic Records was “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”; propelled by Clint Eastwood’s use in his film, “Play Misty for Me,” the song spent six weeks at No. 1. Also known for her hits with the late Donny Hathaway (including “Where is the Love” and “The Closer I Get To You”), Flack recorded Let it Be Roberta, an album of Beatles covers, in 2012. In 2007, she founded the Roberta Flack School of Music, a free after-school program for disadvantaged students, at New York’s Hyde Leadership Charter School. Flack is also a member of the Real Artist Symposium, an artists’ collective, and has served as a spokeswoman for New York’s American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.