Happy 45th: Roberta Flack, QUIET FIRE

Monday, November 7, 2016
Happy 45th: Roberta Flack, QUIET FIRE

45 years ago this month, Roberta Flack released her third studio LP, an effort which provided her with the first top-20 album of her career and found her poised for the chart-topping success that she’d achieve in the very near future.

Produced by Joel Dorn, who would later favor Flack with his production skills on “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” QUIET FIRE found Flack building on the acclaim she’d received from her first two albums, and it topped out 25 places higher on the Billboard 200 than her 1970 album CHAPTER TWO, hitting #18. Its lone Hot 100 single, however, was a cover of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and it ceased its rise at only #76.

That said, QUIET FIRE has received plenty of acclaim in the intervening years, with AllMusic referring to the album as “one of Flack’s best,” praising the fact that the singer was able to follow her own path – as opposed to, say, emulating Aretha Franklin – and noting how “Flack translates the pathos of gospel expression into measured intensity and sighing, elongated phrases.”

Later that year, Flack teamed with fellow R&B crooner Donny Hathaway for several songs, ultimately finding tremendous success with their self-titled album of duets in 1972, but it was the arrival of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in ’72 that really set Flack’s career on fire. After that happened, many a new fan took a step back to find out what they’d missed, at which point the fandom for QUIET FIRE began to grow far louder.