Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Roberta Flack

Set the Night to Music

First recorded by Starship (MOR #9 1987).
Hit version by Roberta Flack & Maxi Priest (US #6/MOR #2/CAN #9 1989).

From the wiki: “‘Set the Night to Music’ was written by Diane Warren (Laura Brnaigan’s ‘Solitaire‘, Aerosmith’s ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’), the first songwriter in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to have had seven hits, all by different artists, on the singles chart at the same time.

“‘Set the Night to Music’ was originally recorded by Starship for their 1987 album No Protection. It was then covered in 1989 by Roberta Flack as a duet with Maxi Priest, peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100.”

Killing Me Softly with His Song

First recorded by Lori Lieberman (1971).
Hit versions by Roberta Flack (US #1/R&B #2/UK #6/CAN #1 1973), The Fugees (US #2/UK #1 1996).

From the wiki: “According to Lori Lieberman, the artist who performed the original recording in 1972, the song was born of a poem she wrote after experiencing a strong reaction to the song ‘Empty Chairs,’ written, composed, and recorded by Don McLean. However, Charlie Fox has specifically repudiated Lieberman’s having input into the song’s creation, saying: ‘We [ie. lyricist Norman Gimbel (‘Girl from Ipanema‘, ‘So Nice (Summer Samba)‘) and composer Fox] wrote the song and [Lieberman] heard it and said it reminded her of how she felt at [a Don McLean] concert. Don McLean didn’t inspire Norman [Gimbel] or me to write the song but even Don McLean thinks he’s the inspiration for the song according to his official website!’ Instead, the song has its origin in a novel.

In the Name of Love

First recorded (instrumentally) by Grover Washington, Jr. (1980).
Hit vocal versions by Robert Flack (US #24 1982), co-writers Ralph MacDonald feat. Bill Withers (US #6 1984).

From the wiki: “‘In the Name of Love’ was written by Ralph MacDonald and William Salter (‘Where is the Love’, 1971), and Bill Withers (‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, 1971; ‘Lean on Me’, 1972), and was first recorded and released as an instrumental by saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. in 1980 on his album Winelight. A vocal cover was recorded in 1982 by Roberta Flack (‘Killing Me Softly with His Song‘) for her album I’m the One, and, in 1984, by co-writers Ralph MacDonald and Bill Withers for MacDonald’s album Universal Rhythm. Both singles charted in the Billboard Hot 100 in each of those respective years.”

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

First recorded by Peggy Seeger (1957).
Also recorded by The Kingston Trio (1962), Peter, Paul & Mary (1965).
Hit version by Roberta Flack (recorded 1969, US #1/UK #14 1972).

From the wiki: “‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ is a 1957 folk song written by British political singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger (half-sister of folk singer Pete Seeger), who would later become his wife, to sing. At the time the couple were lovers, although MacColl was married to someone else. Seeger sang the song when the duo performed in folk clubs around Britain.

“During the 1960s, it was recorded by various folk singers before becoming a major international pop hit for Roberta Flack when re-released in 1972 (after its original album release, on First Take, in 1969) following the song’s inclusion in the 1971 movie Play Misty for Me.

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