Roberta Flack Releases Special 50th Anniversary Versions of Her Chapter Two & Quiet Fire Albums


Roberta Flack Releases

Special 50th Anniversary Versions

of Her Chapter Two & Quiet Fire Albums

Inducted Into the Women Songwriters Hall of Fame

album cover – Chapter Two

album cover – Quiet Fire

Roberta Flack’s
Chapter Two (Spotify) and
Quiet Fire (Spotify) albums
now available digitally in 50th Anniversary Editions

(New York, NY) Fifty years ago, Roberta Flack was establishing her now iconic brand in popular music. Flack’s natural command of pop, soul, jazz, gospel, and more plus her gift for sublime interpretations of songs from a rainbow of sources found rich fruition on her second and third albums, Chapter Two (1970) and Quiet Fire (1971). On June 25, both albums return in remastered and expanded 50th Anniversary digital and vinyl editions that brim with the allure of a soon-to-be superstar forging a new and potent place informed by the African-American tradition in the musical mainstream. The two albums feature six revelatory unreleased tracks of songs by such star writers as Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, Lennon/McCartney, and Leon Russell. The releases continue in the vein of last year’s Anniversary edition of Flack’s debut, First Take, named one of 2020’s best reissues by Rolling Stone.

Flack was also included in the inaugural inductees to the newly-formed Women Songwriters Hall of Fame in June. She was honored alongside such talents as Naomi Judd, Valerie Simpson, and Mary Chapin Carpenter during the Hall’s first ceremony at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Although Flack is not a prolific writer, one can hear her compositional beauty on numbers like “Mood,” co-written with her friend and collaborator Donny Hathaway.

Chapter Two, hailed as “a great album” by All Music, resides at the intersection of “enlightened soul and contemporary singer-songwriter pop,” observes noted critic Mitchell Cohen in Rock & Roll Globe. It’s “an insistence that Jimmy Webb (Flack does an exquisite version of his ‘Do What You Gotta Do’), Curtis Mayfield, and the Gibb Brothers all can co-exist.”

As AV Club notes, the set is “packed with smoldering, soulful takes” on songs by folk legends Bob Dylan (“Just Like a Woman”) and Buffy Sainte-Marie as well as “The Impossible Dream” from the Broadway hit musical “Man of La Mancha.” The album’s previously unreleased bonus track is a Mitchell song, “Midnight Cowboy,” that its writer never issued on one of her own albums.

Quiet Fire is rated as “one of Flack’s best” by All Music, noting how, true to its title, she “translates the pathos of gospel expression into measured intensity and sighing, elongated phrases.” Its original tracks include another song by Webb, the Bee Gees’ chestnut “To Love Somebody,” the Carole King/Gerry Goffin classic “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and Paul Simon’s “Bridge over Troubled Water” alongside numbers by soul/R&B songwriters Gene McDaniels (who also wrote “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” a 1974 #1 hit for Flack that earned her GRAMMY nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance), and Van McCoy. The reissue’s bonus tracks include Lennon/McCartney’s “Here, There and Everywhere,” “O-o-o-h Child,” a Top 10 hit from the previous year by the Five Stairsteps, and an epic 14-minute take on “Superstar,” written by Leon Russell and Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett and a #2 hit for The Carpenters that same year.

The albums were slated for a June release to be included in Black Music Month, and Flack’s heritage of activism is spotlighted on Quiet Fire‘s reissue. Its opening cut, the gospel-flavored “Go up Moses” was co-written by Flack with Civil Rights legend the Rev. Jesse Jackson and her producer Joel Dorn. One of the bonus tracks is Roberta’s take on Marvin Gaye’s landmark number “What’s Going On,” which he wrote as a response to witnessing an incident of police brutality.

“Fifty years later, we are still struggling with police brutality,” Flack observes. “The song was and is about injustice, struggle and that what connects us is stronger than what divides us. I feel so sad about its continued relevance.”

Both albums preceded her rise to hit artist stature after Clint Eastwood included a number from her debut album, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” in his film “Play Misty For Me.” It spent six consecutive weeks at #1, sold more than a million copies, was ranked by Billboard as the top song of 1972, and won Flack the Record of the Year GRAMMY Award. She went on to release 18 Billboard-charting songs and win three more GRAMMYs plus 13 nominations, and is the only act to win Record of the Year two years in a row (1973 and ’74). NPR notes how Flack was “a major figure in 1970s popular culture.” She continues to support new generations of musical talents with scholarship and mentoring initiatives through her Roberta Flack Foundation. Her impact on music and culture will continue with a planned documentary film about her life and music, her biography, and a children’s book, “The Green Piano,” based on her life.

A half-century after both albums were first issued, Flack remains a prominent influence on younger musical artists who have covered songs she made famous and sampled her recordings like Fugees, Beyoncé, D’Angelo, Stereophonics, John Legend, Corrine Bailey Rae, and others. “I’m honored that the kids connect to artists like me,” she says. “Music crosses all borders, languages, ages, and religions. As the universal language, music speaks to us through our feelings. I love hearing how they integrate my tracks in ways I never could have imagined at the time I recorded them.”

For more information:

First Take: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
CD/Vinyl available

And now available digitally