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’, and the first songwriter in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to have 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, was remade 1989 by Roberta Flack as a duet with Maxi Priest and reached #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 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 & Bill Withers (US #6 1984).

From the wiki: “‘In the Name of Love’ was written by Ralph MacDonald, William Salter, and Bill Withers, and was first released by Grover Washington Jr. in 1980 on his album Winelight. Vocal covers were recorded in 1982 by Roberta Flack (‘Killing Me Softly with His Song‘) and, in 1984, by co-writer Bill Withers, both charting in the Billboard Hot 100 those respective years.”

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

First recorded by Peggy Seeger (1957).
Also recorded by The Kingston Trio (1962). Performed by 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, 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 and became a major international hit for Roberta Flack 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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