The Musical Instrument Museum Announces
Their New Roberta Flack Display
Featuring Flack’s 1922 Steinway Piano
Music Legend’s Remastered Debut Album
First Take: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
With 12 Recordings Never Before Heard
(PHOENIX) The Musical Instrument Museum’s newest display in their Artist Gallery pays tribute to Grammy Award-winning singer and musical icon Roberta Flack. Her body of work is acclaimed for its fusion of genres and soulful interpretation, with many of her songs topping the Billboard charts. Flack remains the only artist ever to win back-to-back Grammy Awards for Record of the Year (1972-1973). She most recently earned the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2020) for her remarkable contributions to music.
Known most for her exceptional voice, Flack began her musical journey as a pianist. She won a scholarship to Howard University when she was just 15 years old.
Flack donated her 1922 Steinway piano to MIM, her first professional-quality piano and a treasured instrument. MIM is delighted to showcase this piano in the Artist Gallery alongside a silk outfit made by Jackie Rogers and worn by Flack onstage.
“The piano has always been my primary instrument. It was my expression and my vehicle through which I transformed my life. My voice became a means of expression for me much later in my life. I told my students as I tell my audiences and musicians that I mentor that it doesn’t matter the instrument-you just need to find one and express yourself as honestly and as clearly as you can,” says Flack.
When asked what it meant to her to know that MIM’s audiences will discover her personal Steinway piano, Flack said, “I’m honored to be a part of such a rich collection. Through my music, I seek to find what connects us, which is always, at its root, love. I hope that the stories I tell in my music will continue to touch hearts through the years to come, many thanks to MIM!”
Flack just released First Take: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition which includes her No. 1 hit and GRAMMY Award winning song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” In addition to remastered versions of the album’s eight original songs, the limited edition 2CD/1LP reissue includes three bonus tracks (“Compared To What” single edit, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” single edit, and “Trade Winds”), a live version of “All The Way,” and 12 recordings never heard before including Flack’s performance of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Groove Me,” “On The Street Where You Live,” “Afro Blue,” and “Frankie and Johnny.”
Uncut Magazine praises that it is “a debut of remarkable vision and maturity. As with so much of her music, its power lies in its restraint. And one thing hasn’t changed in 50 years: the harder you listen to her, the more you’re likely to get in return.” And American Songwriter notes, “Flack’s stunning voice sparkles in its clarity, her jazz-tinged piano playing shows just how gifted she is on the instrument and even with the low key program, there is no doubt that this is a major talent who has already found her voice before entering a studio. … her gifts are timeless. Anyone not acquainted with this iridescent album will quickly be floored by Flack’s maturity, control and professionalism on her earliest recorded material. It sounds as fresh, moving and inspired today as it did five decades ago.”
First Take: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is available now exclusively at SoulMusic.com, and will release to streaming outlets in the summer of 2021.
Flack is not just “an elegant and legendary vocal superstar” (Amazon). She is also a dedicated humanitarian, educational activist and social conscience who established her Roberta Flack Foundation to support aspiring creatives and causes she cares about. Flack 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 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” (Peabo Bryson) and “Set the Night to Music” (Maxi Priest). 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 GRAMMY Awards out of her total of 13 nominations. This year she was honored with the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. 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 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: www.robertaflack.com
About Musical Instrument Museum
The Musical Instrument Museum is a 200,000-square-foot building with two floors of spacious, light-filled galleries and a collection of more than 13,400 instruments and associated objects. Currently, more than 7,000 objects are on display from over 200 countries and territories. Built at a cost of $250 million, MIM creates an exciting musical experience for guests, immersing them in traditions from around the world. The museum’s galleries feature advanced wireless technology and high-resolution video screens, enabling guests to see instruments, hear their sounds, and observe them being played in their original settings- performances that are often as spectacular as the instruments. Select exhibits offer an insider’s view of how instruments work, the workshop displays detail the instrument-building process, and the Experience Gallery offers musical instruments that guests can touch and play.
Music is something all humans share, a source of beauty and comfort, a means to give voice to joy in times of celebration, and a powerful force that brings people together. The museum’s distinctive global collection comprises instruments, artifacts, costumes, and audio and video recordings. MIM’s curatorial staff has traveled extensively to collect objects that convey the diversity of global musical practices. Each instrument was selected for its fine construction, the reputation of its maker, its special provenance, or its connection to a famous performer.
“The goal of the Musical Instrument Museum is to illuminate what is unique about cultures, and also what is shared and universal,” stated Bob Ulrich, MIM founder and board chair. “MIM provides an experience like none other, allowing musical novices and experts, tourists and scholars, children and grandparents to hear, see, and feel the powerful and uniting force of music in an entirely new way.”
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