Today is the 59th birthday of singer Roberta Flack. Flack has
performed some of the best-loved soul songs of all time,
including "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Killing
Me Softly." Born to a church organist father in Asheville, N.C., Flack attended
Howard University on a full scholarship at age 15. While she was busy earning her degree, Flack also became the first black student-teacher at an all-white school in
Maryland. After graduation, she taught for a while longer before she began playing clubs around Washington, D.C. In 1968, she was signed to Atlantic Records and recorded her debut, First Take, the following year.
After a run of hits in the late '60s and early 1970s -- including "You've Got A Friend" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" for the Clint Eastwood film "Play Misty For Me"
-- and after touring the U.S. and Europe, Flack
spent a few years away from the road to focus on recording and other projects, such as educational programs for disadvantaged youth. In 1977, she emerged with Blue Lights in the Basement and had another string of well-charting singles such as
"The Closer I Get To You" and "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love." She scored the movie "Bustin' Loose" in 1981 and toured many times throughout the '80s, performing with greats such as Miles Davis, Maxi Priest and Yoko
Ono. Her most recent album was 1994's Roberta, but Flack has seen renewed interest in her work with the Fugees' cover of "Killing Me Softly," a huge hit for them in 1996.
Other birthdays: Don Wilson (Ventures), 61; Cory Lerios
(Pablo Cruise), 47; and Janet Beveridge Bean (Eleventh
Dream Day), 34.