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Faith Evans on her favorite Roberta Flack song and more | American Masters

Faith Evans is a multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning recording artist, songwriter, arranger and record producer.

Faith Evans, 2005. Photo by Tim Moore, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

With a music career spanning over two decades, she has released eight studio albums and is a seven-time Grammy nominee, winning “Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group” in 1998 for “I’ll Be Missing You,” an homage to her late husband and hip-hop legend Notorious B.I.G.

In this Q&A, Evans shares her favorite Roberta Flack song and thoughts on Flack’s legacy across genres. A diverse range of artists (rap, hip-hop, pop, R&B, Soul, pop, Jazz, etc.) have made Flack’s work a part of their recordings. Not only is there the massive hit “re-imagining” of “Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees, but a list of diverse artists who have sampled Flack’s work include hip-hop artists like Scarface, M.O.P., Nas, Jadakiss, Lil’ Kim, Snoop Dogg, Chance the Rapper, J. Cole and many more.

1. Do you have a favorite Roberta Flack song or album?

Faith Evans: “Baby I Love You” with Donny Hathaway.

Hip-hop artist Chuck D of Public Enemy told director Antonino D’Ambrosio: “I wanted to sing like Otis Redding and Roberta Flack … there was always something a bit more iconoclastic about Roberta that people may not at first realize … I think there are not many people more original than her and that’s what a music star is … always themselves, always original, always organic.”

From her partnership with Donny Hathaway (and others including Peabo Bryson) to her discovery and mentorship of new talent including Luther Vandross, Marcus Miller and Davell Crawford, Roberta Flack’s influence continues to take shape in new ways as the music industry evolves.

2. What do you think is Roberta Flack’s biggest influence on music?

Faith Evans: I can’t say it’s her biggest influence, but her being a composer, as well as a vocalist, certainly influenced me.


Where to start with Roberta Flack

3. Roberta Flack’s work has been endlessly sampled, what do you think makes her so popular?

Faith Evans: I think the fact that she has so many familiar hits makes it hard not to acknowledge her contribution to music.

Flack’s hits include “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “The Closer I Get to You,” “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly With His Song.” Flack’s song “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter” was sampled in “Letter to B.I.G.” by Jadakiss. The song, which is Jadakiss’s tribute to Notorious B.I.G., features Faith Evans.

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Photo by Xu Haiwei on Unsplash