(NEW YORK) Roberta Flack is not just “an elegant and legendary vocal superstar” (Amazon)
. She is also a dedicated humanitarian, educational activist and social conscience who recently established her Roberta Flack Foundation to support aspiring creatives and causes she cares about.
Next month, Flack will present the foundation’s two inaugural grants. The beneficiaries are: Shelectricity, a first-of-its kind, digitally-enabled ecosystem to empower adolescent girls of color in the United States to reach their full potential and thrive; and educator/filmmaker Carol Swainson to create a film to help white parents teach their children to interrupt the racial narrative that is often found in our music and other media.
Shelectricity brings together technology, culture, and community to create safe and nurturing online and in-person environments for girls to learn, grow, innovate and lead. It will design, build, and launch programs in its first three hub cities – Oakland, Los Angeles, and Memphis – in fall 2019. Its founder, Anasa Troutman, says, “It is my highest aspiration that our girls continue to grow into the kind of women that Ms. Flack is: Wildly creative, deeply compassionate and intimately involved in the creation of culture with an impact that will reverberate for generations to come.”
Carol Swainson, Head of School at San Francisco Schoolhouse, has more than 25 years of experience as an educator and leader at a broad range of independent schools in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Oakland, California. She and her husband founded and run the International Peace and Art Center, which promotes peace and social justice through the arts. Carol is an advocate for experiential education that promotes social justice, leading workshops for parents, students, and educators. With the support of the National Association of Independent Schools and the White Privilege Conference, her documentary will be directed at school communities with the goal of empowering families to feel safe in discussing their racial biases and thereby changing the negative racial narrative through their children and their own actions.
Flack herself experienced the support her foundation aims to foster. As a young girl growing up in rural Black Mountain, North Carolina, she was mentored by her family, teachers, church members, choir directors and many others that helped her realize and actualize her talents and dreams. She has never forgotten these people and has always maintained the importance of —-nurturing young people in realizing their dreams through education and mentorship, which is the cornerstone of the Roberta Flack Foundation.
At the age of 15, Flack earned a full music scholarship to Howard University – one of the youngest students ever to enter the legendary African-American college. She taught music in Washington, DC area junior high schools before being discovered by jazz pianist and singer Les McCann and signed to Atlantic Records. She founded the Roberta Flack School of Music at the Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx, providing an innovative and inspiring music education program to underprivileged students free of charge. Last year Flack was given the prestigious Clark and Gwen Terry Courage Award from the Jazz Foundation of America and in 2017 was presented with the Town Hall Friend of the Arts Award.
She is known worldwide for her #1 singles “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” “Killing Me Softly with His Song” (which topped the charts for five weeks) and “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” her hit duets with Donny Hathaway “Where Is the Love” and “The Closer I Get to You,” and such other hits as “Tonight I Celebrate My Love” and “Set the Night to Music.” Flack remains the first and only solo artist to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year for two consecutive years, and won two other Grammys out of her total of 13 nominations. She is considered one of the greatest songstresses of our time, effortlessly traversing a broad musical landscape over the years from pop to soul to folk to jazz with a voice the BBC describes as “a molten murmur [that] flexes into a cry as pure as a prayer, heartfelt as a confessional. It is elegantly tender, almost unbearably intimate.”
For further information: