Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Nina Simone – Part Four – The 1970s


It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

Nina Simone – Part Four – 1970s

This week part four of the Nina Simone story, and after the Civil Rights Movement in the early 60s the 70s were to prove a challenging time personally but a very productive period in Nina’s career.

Here Comes the Sun

In her autobiography, Nina Simone writes that her function as an artist is “…to make people feel on a deep level. It’s difficult to describe because it’s not something you can analyze; to get near what it’s about you have to play it. And when you’ve caught it, when you’ve got the audience hooked, you always know because it’s like electricity hanging in the air.”

As Nina moved into the 1970s she was settled at RCA and producing some outstanding albums and singles. However by 1974 she was ready to move on from the label and the second half of the decade was spent travelling the world.

In Nina’s seven years with RCA she produced nine albums beginning with Nina Simone Sings The Blues and including To Love Somebody, Here Comes The Sun and Emergency Ward. Her third album ‘Nuff Said’ featured the medley combining two songs from the hit Broadway musical Hair, lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni with music my Galt Macdermot. Nina’s version was No 2 in the UK charts and No 1 in the Netherlands and helped Nina reach a new pop fan base. Ain’t Got No – I Got Life,

George Harrison’s Here Comes The Sun, was the title track of Nina’s seventh album which also featured Angel Of The Morning and What Have They Done To My Song, Ma? Here is the title track. Nina Simone 

She recorded her last album for RCA, It Is Finished, during 1974 one of the tracks was the evocative Let It Be Me written by Gilbert Becaud, Mann Curtis and Pierre Delanoe.

After Nina left RCA it would be four years before she recorded her next album in 1978. Nina was persuaded by Jazz musician Creed Taylor to release an album for his CTI label. She recorded it in Belgium with the strings and vocals added in New York. Although Nina herself claimed that she did not like the album, her fans did. The title track written by Randy Newman, Baltimore combined a reggae beat with some of the best musicians in the business including Nina’s long time collaborator and musical director, Al Shackman. Other tracks on the album remained true to Nina’s roots ranging from spiritual songs to Hall & Oates Rich Girl. Here is the title track Baltimore written by Randy Newman. Nina Simone 

Nina Simone had been married briefly in 1958 to Don Ross a fairground barker but following her divorce had married a New York police detective in 1961. Andrew Stroud would take on the role of Nina’s manager in the coming years and he was also responsible for her finances. In 1970 Nina left America for Barbados and apparently assumed that as her manager he would contact her about upcoming performances. Unfortunately Andrew Stroud assumed that as Nina had left her wedding ring behind that she intended to divorce him.

When Nina returned to the US she found that a warrant had been issued for her arrest for unpaid taxes. Although it is highly likely that this was down to her lack of control of her own finances it was also thought to be strongly connected to her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 60s. Nina immediately turned around and headed back to Barbados where she lived for some time.

Nina felt increasingly alienated under the Nixon regime and disenchanted with those organisations that she had associated with in the 60s. After leaving RCA she became literally a citizen of the world and stated that she could not live in America again. She spent the latter part of the 70s and early 1980s living in Barbados, Liberia, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland and The Netherlands before finally settling in France.

Platinum Collection

Next week a look at Nina’s life abroad and some of her memorable live performances in Europe.

Buy Nina Simone Music: Amazon

Additional sources
Nina Simone Website
Wikipedia

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson

 

As always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.

 

Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Nina Simone – Part Three – 1960s and Civil Rights


It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

This week in part three of the Nina Simone story and we look at Nina’s enormous impact on the Civil Rights Movement in the turbulent sixties. Her music crossed many different styles and we begin with Nina Simone’s own words about her music and where she felt she fit into the industry of the day.

Nina Simone – Part Three – 1960s and Civil Rights

“Critics started to talk about what sort of music I was playing,” writes Nina in her 1991 autobiography I Put A Spell On You, “and tried to find a neat slot to file it away in. It was difficult for them because I was playing popular songs in a classical style with a classical piano technique influenced by cocktail jazz. On top of that I included spirituals and children’s song in my performances, and those sorts of songs were automatically identified with the folk movement. So, saying what sort of music I played gave the critics problems because there was something from everything in there, but it also meant I was appreciated across the board – by jazz, folk, pop and blues fans as well as admirers of classical music.”

In Concert

Nina had moved to Phillips which was a division of Mercury Records and this would propel her firmly into the global music scene. In 1964 her first release with Phillips, Nina Simone In Concert was a platform for her belief in equality and confirmed her position as a pioneer and champion of freedom. One of the tracks, Mississippi Goddam was released and a single and banned in several states in the south which indicates the impact she had as a performer. The song was her response to the murder of Medgar Evans and the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four black children. The ban was allegedly because of the use of the word Goddam!

Her other protest songs that would become synonymous with the Civil Rights movement were Four Women and one of her most popular To Be Young, Gifted and Black. Here is a fascinating interview with Nina at the time talking about the inspiration behind the song and a live performance of the track.

Although Nina used her music to demonstrate her solidarity for Civil Rights and her belief in freedom and justice for everyone, she initially had misgivings about performing songs that were linked to the movement and this is how Nina described her feelings on the subject in her autobiography I Put A Spell On You.

“Nightclubs were dirty, making records was dirty, popular music was dirty and to mix all that with politics seemed senseless and demeaning. And until songs like ‘Mississippi Goddam’ just burst out of me, I had musical problems as well. How can you take the memory of a man like Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers and reduce all that he was to three and a half minutes and a simple tune? That was the musical side of it I shied away from; I didn’t like ‘protest music’ because a lot of it was so simple and unimaginative it stripped the dignity away from the people it was trying to celebrate. But the Alabama church bombing and the murder of Medgar Evers stopped that argument and with ‘Mississippi Goddam,’ I realized there was no turning back.”

Nina was part of an influential group of African American playwrights, poets and musicians who were living in Harlem and included Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin and Langston Hughes. These and others influenced and inspired Nina’s own creativity. Including tracks such as Backlash Blues by Langston Hughes, on her first album with the RCA Victor label in 1967, Nina Simone Sings The Blues. The song’s lyrics originated from the last poem Langston Hughes submitted for publication prior to his death in May, 1967 and gave to Nina.

Nina would perform and speak at many civil rights meetings including at the Selma to Montgomery marches. She unlike Martin Luther King was not opposed to a more violent approach to achieving the goals of the movement, although she did stress in her autobiography that she regarded all races as equal. It was clear however that she deeply admired Martin Luther King and was deeply affected by his murder in 1968.

Her next album in 1968, Nuff Said contains live recordings from the Westbury Music Fair, April 7, 1968, three days after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr… She dedicated the whole performance to him and sang “Why? (The King Of Love Is Dead)”, a song written by her bass player, Gene Taylor, directly after the news of King’s death had reached them.

It was clear that there were many facets to Nina Simone the woman as well as the musician and one of the songs that probably illustrates this the most is “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”

Next time the late 60s and more performances from Nina’s seven years with RCA and her work on the musical Hair and collaboration with other musicians.

Buy Nina Simone Music: Amazon

Additional sources
Nina Simone Website
Wikipedia

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson

 

As always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.

 

Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Nina Simone – Part Two – The 1960s


It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

Nina Simone – Part Two – The 1960s

Little Girl Blue

Last week in the first part of the Nina Simone story, we left the story at the point when Nina’s debut album Little Girl Blue in 1958, was gaining her a much wider audience and she had moved on from Bethlehem Records to sign a contract with Colpix which was a division of Columbia Pictures.

With more experience of the record industry under her belt, Nina’s contract with Colpix included the important clause which clearly handed all the creative control over to her as an artist. This included all the material that she recorded. Her first album for Colpix was the 1959 release of The Amazing Nina Simone and here is one of the tracks from the album It Might As Well Be Spring.

The song was from the 1945 film State Fair with music by Richard Rogers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year.Classic Mood Experience  

This album led to opportunities to perform in upscale venues including her first major New York show in theTown Hall in Manhattan. The evening was a resounding success and critics and audience alike were captivated not just by her incredible musicality but also her unique and spontaneous performance style. One of the songs that she performed that night was You Can Have Him by Irving Berlin, which had previously been covered by both Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald. It was such a stunning version that Colpix released the track as a single. Note the opening keyboard arpeggio that would become Nina’s signature throughout her career.

In 1960 Nina would achieve her second Pop and R&B chart success with her version of the original Bessie Smith classic “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out.” The blues song was written in 1923 by Jimmy Cox and the lyrics told the story from the point of view of a one-time millionaire during prohibition.

Nina’s increasing chart success and rising popularity resulted in an invitation to perform at the prestigious Newport Festival.

The festival had been established in 1954 as the First Annual American Jazz Festival and was held at the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island. It was financed by socialites Lorraine and Louis Lorillard for many years and it became one of the key venues for the top performers of the day. Following the success of the festival in the first year with over 13,000 attendees, the Lorillard’s bought a large estate called Belcourt in the hopes of holding the larger event in 1955 but planning permission was not granted. The festival did go ahead at Freebody Park which was a sports arena and workshops and receptions being held at Belcourt.

Not all the residents of Newport were in favour of the event. Jazz was not as popular amongst the wealthy residential community and they felt that the festival attracted an undesirable element. Mainly low income students and music fans without money for the high-end hotels who were sleeping rough across their exclusive environment. And of course many of the musicians and their fans were African American which in the 50s was a factor as it was across most of the country. The influx of thousands of people also caused logistic problems such as traffic congestion which only increased each year until 1960. Things got out of hand amongst the festival goers that year and the National Guard was called in to restore order. After that the festival underwent a number of changes to format before relocating to New York in the 70s.

However 1960 was the year that Nina Simone was invited to perform which she did on June 30th. She was accompanied by her long term musical collaborator Al Shackman on guitar, bassist Chris White and drummer Bobby Hamilton. Colpix recorded their performance and in 1961 released the popular blues track Trouble in Mind which gave Nina her third chart success.

Trouble in Mind is a blues song written by jazz pianist Richard M. Jones in the early 1920s and the first known recording of the song was in 1924. It has been covered many times by artists such as Dinah Washington, Sam Cooke and of course this version by Nina Simone.

Over the five years with Colpix Nina recorded nine albums and she had several tracks that were pivotal to her career including Cotton Eyed Joe and the lyrical and descriptive Norwegian folk song Black Is The Colour Of My True Love’s Hair. Nina also recorded one civil rights song, written by Oscar Brown jnr, Brown Baby which was a track on her fifth album for Colpix, At The Village Gate.

Next time we catch up with Nina Simone as she moves on from Colpix Records. 

Buy Nina Simone Music: Amazon

Additional sources
Nina Simone Website
Wikipedia

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson

 

As always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.

 

Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Roberta Flack – 70s and 80s Collaborations


It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway remastered

Roberta Flack – The 70s, 80s and collaborations.

Following on from her success with The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face in 1973 Roberta Flack also celebrated that year with her second No 1 hit with Killing Me Softly With His Song.

The song, originally performed by Lori Liebermann in 1972 was written by Charles Fox, a composer who worked mainly in television and film. The lyrics were written by Norman Gimbel a veteran in the music industry whose English lyrics to the Brazilian hit The Girl From Ipanema made the song a global success.

Roberta’s version of Killing Me Softly was awarded Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female artist at the 1974 Grammy Awards and her album that featured it was her biggest selling record earning Double Platinum Certification in the same year.

That year Huckleberry Finn the film was released and Roberta Flack sang the lead on the opening and closing track Freedom written by brothers Robert and Richard Sherman.

1975 saw the release of the album Feel Like Makin’ Love which Roberta Flack produced despite the misgivings of Atlantic Records. Collaborating with musicians including Bob James and Patti Austen she brought an edgier jazz element to the tracks. It would become her third No 1 album. Here is Roberta performing Feel Like Makin’ Love from a later live album Roberta Flack in Concert. The song was written by singer/songwriter Gene McDaniels

During the 80s and following the sad loss of Donny Hathaway in 1979 Roberta Flack would perform with two other artists and their collaboration would help her stay in the charts throughout the decade.

Peabo Bryson (Robert Peapo Bryson) is an R&B and Soul singer-songwriter who is known for his ballads particularly performed with female singers such as Roberta Flack. He has contributed to several Disney animated feature soundtracks and his solo hits include If Ever You’re In My Arms which was a Top 10 pop single in 1984 and Can You Stop The Rain in 1985. He went on to win a Grammy in 1992 for his performance of the song Beauty And The Beast with Celine Dion and again in 1993 for A Whole New World from Aladdin.

In 1983 he recorded the album Born to Love with Roberta Flack that featured Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You. RHINO 

Another successful collaboration was with Maxi Priest the British reggae vocalist. He is recognised as one of the most successful Reggae Fusion artists combining his musical roots with an R&B influence. His first major release was Maxi Priest in 1988 and his cover of Cat Steven’s Wild World helped establish his success. His duet with Roberta Flack Set the Night To Music reached the American Top Ten in 1991. The song written by Diane Warren, was originally recorded by the American group Starship on their 1987 Album No Protection. The song was the title track for Roberta Flack’s 1991 album released by Atlantic.

In 1988 Roberta released her album Oasis which featured And So It Goes which was co-written by poet Maya Angelou. Maya had enjoyed a brief musical career in the 50s and had released an album of calypso music in 1957. She then spent the next 30 years focusing on her successful writing career. In a tribute to Maya Angelou after she died in 2014 Roberta Flack said this about her close friend in a statement to TIME.

“Thank you for your wisdom, for your unfailing strength, your courage and your honesty which have moved people around this world to a better place. We all have been inspired by you to not give up when we otherwise might have.”

And So It Goes was composed by Barry Miles with Maya Angelou and Roberta Flack.Roberta Flack 

Next week in the final part of this series we will bring you bang up to date with some of Roberta’s more recent live performances. You will find her tour dates in the link below and if you are lucky enough to live close by I hope you will book your tickets to this amazing artist’s shows.

Please join us next time for the last part in the Roberta Flack story with her more current work.

Buy Roberta Flack’s music : Amazon

Additional Sources
Roberta Flack

Photographs
Wikipedia

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson

 

Thank you for dropping and as always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Roberta Flack – 1970s and 1980s


It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

Roberta Flack – The 1970s and 1980s.

Killing Me Softly

Roberta Flack was hugely talented and this did not go unnoticed by some of the best artists of the time. Whilst Roberta was performing at Mr. Henry’s restaurant she was discovered by Leslie Coleman McCann, known in the business as ‘Les’ McCann. Les was born in Kentucky and was a successful American soul jazz pianist and vocalist who later moved into R&B and soul. His big break had come when he won a Navy talent singing contest which led to an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show and his career took off in the early 60s.

He was very impressed with the young singer and introduced her to Atlantic Records and they too were very aware that they had a star in the making. They recorded her debut album First Take in November 1968 releasing it in 1969.

Compared to What was a political anthem about the Vietnam War written by Eugene ‘Gene’ McDaniels a singer/songwriter and Roberta Flack released it as the opening track on First Take. It would go on to be covered by over 250 artists including Ray Charles.

Les McCann also covered the song on his album Swiss Movement recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival and both the album and his version of the song when released as a single, were huge Billboard pop chart successes.

‘Gene’ McDaniels would go on to write another of Roberta’s hits Feel Like Making Love. The song was released before her album of the same name and was one of the biggest musical hits of 1974 and of Roberta Flack’s recording career. No. 1 on the Billboard hot 100 singles chart, five weeks No. 1 on the Hot Soul Singles chart and two weeks as No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts in Canada and the US. It received three Grammy nominations, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female.

Between 1969 and 1972 Roberta released three albums Chapter Two, Quiet Fire and an album of duets Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. This album became a smash hit and the tracks received a lot of radio plays including Where is the Love and You’ve Got A friend. Other tracks that went on to become classics in their own right were For All We Know and I (Who Have Nothing). This song was originally released by Ben E. King 1963 and reached No 29 on the Billboard charts. It would go on to be covered by many artists in different languages but this version by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway is one of the best. Donny Hathaway 

Record sales for Roberta’s albums with Atlantic Records gained a huge boost when Clint Eastwood chose the track from Roberta’s first album, First Take, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face for the soundtrack of his film Play Misty For Me. The song stayed in the charts at No. 1 for six weeks and earned Roberta Flack a million-selling Gold Disc. It also boosted the sales of First Take which went on to sell nearly two million copies.

The song was awarded Grammy for Record of The Year in 1973 and Clint Eastwood also asked Roberta to record the end music for the Dirty Harry film, Sudden Impact in 1983. The song This Side of Forever was composed by Lalo Schifrin with lyrics by Dewayne Blackwell.

Next time a look at the successful collaborations during the 70s and 80s between Roberta Flack and other top artists.

Buy Roberta Flack’s music : Amazon

Additional Sources
Roberta Flack

Photographs
Wikipedia

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson

 

Thank you for dropping and as always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Roberta Flack – The Early Years


It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

Roberta Flack – The Early Years.

Roberta Flack is a musician and singer best known for her gentle arrangements and performances of Gospel, Soul, Jazz, Pop, R&B and folk music. Some of her most well-known hits include The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Killing Me Softly With His Song and Feel Like Making Love.

Here is one of the most haunting arrangements of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. The folk song was written by Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger in 1957. When they eventually married they would perform the song in folk clubs around Britain and whilst covered by various singers, it would not become a major international hit until recorded by Roberta Flack in 1972. It won Grammy awards for both Record and Song of the Year and it was ranked number one song of the year in 1972

Over her long career Roberta Flack has influenced and opened doors for many other female singers who were empowered by her spirit and talented dedication to outstanding music. She is a member of the Artist Empowerment Coalition which advocates the right of artists to control their creative properties and Roberta also founded The Roberta Flack School of Music in the Bronx in New York City. In partnership with the Hyde Leadership Chart School. The programme provides free music education to underprivileged students.

The Early Years.

Roberta was born in 1937 in Black Mountain, North Carolina to Laron and Irene Flack. Her mother was a church organist and Roberta and her family moved to Arlington, Virginia where she was brought up. She was introduced to outstanding musicians such as Sam Cooke through the family Baptist church. And she was influenced by one of the great Gospel singers of the day, Mahalia Jackson. Here is Mahalia’s powerful version of Amazing Grace.

By age nine Roberta began learning to play the piano. It was clear as she entered her teens that she was a very talented classical pianist and she was accepted into Howard University on a full music scholarship. At only 15 she was one of the youngest ever to enrol and it was here that she became interested in using her voice as another instrument. She changed her major from piano and eventually became the assistant conductor with the university choir. Whilst at Howard, Roberta met Donny Hathaway who would become her singing partner on hits such as Where Is The Love.

The song was written by Ralph MacDonald and William Salter and recorded by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway in 1972. It reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and a week each at number one on the Easy Listening and R&B charts. It also won best Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with vocal.

Unfortunately, after graduating and continuing her studies in music, her father Laron died and to help support the family, Roberta took a job teaching music and English in North Carolina. She also taught private music lessons at her home but in the evenings and weekends her own music career began to take off in the Washington D.C hot spots.

At first she employed her wonderful musicality as a pianist and would accompany other singers including an opera singer at The Tivoli Club. During the breaks she would entertain in a back room playing piano, singing blues and folk songs with some of the pop standards of the day. These short performances developed into her own gigs several nights a week at the 1520 Club.

Roberta was still taking voice lessons and her teacher, Frederick Wilkerson told her he thought her future lay in pop music rather than in the classics. She took his advice and changed the content of her performances. Her reputation began to spread and in 1968 her professional career took off with a regular engagement at Mr. Henry’s Restaurant, in Georgetown.

Eventually Roberta was performing three or four shows a day to a very appreciative audience and that audience included some famous and influential artists of the time including Burt Bacharach and Johnny Mathis.

To close this first part of the Roberta Flack here is Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye from the 1969 album First Take released in 1969. The song had been written by Canadian Leonard Cohen and released originally in 1967

Next week we follow the meteoric rise in Roberta Flack’s career in the 70s and 80s.

Buy Roberta Flack’s music : Amazon

Additional Sources
Roberta Flack

Photographs
Wikipedia

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson

 

Thank you for dropping and as always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.