In 1969, Roberta Flack released her debut album, First Take, but it wasn't until 1972, after Clint Eastwood plucked "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" from the LP for his film Play Misty for Me, that her career took off. And when she sang the hit in Carnegie Hall, "I almost blew it because I cried on every other word,'' Flack, 57, recalls. "People thought I was singing about some guy, but I was thinking about how far I'd come." She went on to soothe millions of hearts throughout the '70s and early '80s with soulful ballads, including "The Closer I Get to You" and "Making Love." Now a remake of her 1973 No. 1 tune "Killing Me Softly with His Song" by the rap group the Fugees has put Flack in the spotlight again with a cameo in their video. Recently she heard the song playing in a grocery store. "I had to stop because I thought it was me," says the four-time Grammy winner. "I think it's a compliment. It has that hip-hop pulse, and that's wonderful." Flack is still performing herself, playing to a nearly full house at Radio City Music Hall in May on a double bill with Johnny Mathis. She is also the host of her own weekly, two-hour syndicated radio program, Brunch with Roberta Flack, in which she spins discs and reminisces about her days in the pop trenches. "She has been able to have continued success because of the sheer power and beauty of her distinctive voice," says veteran chart watcher Casey Kasem. "She puts heart and soul into her music, and that's why it's so moving." Flack, who is divorced and lives with her two dogs and two cats in Manhattan's renowned Dakota apartment building, maintains, "I wasn't in the business of music, I was in the art. Sometimes I made $300, sometimes $300,000. But it's always been the same thing that got me the money: my love for music."
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