You’ve heard Roberta Flack sing “Killing Me Softly With His Song” a million times, but it wasn’t even originally her song.
Songwriting team Charles Fox and Norman Gimble wrote the song for singer Lori Lieberman after she witnessed “American Pie” singer Don McLean doing a rendition of “Empty Chairs” in a bar, or so the story goes. As we noted in a 2017 feature, there’s some legend surrounding the song’s inception.
Flack heard the song on an airplane and was so floored by it that she made it the title track of her 1973 album Killing Me Softly. It was the longest-running number one single of that year and later won Flack the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance.
While the story of its birth is a little murky, “Killing Me Softly With His Song” remains an untouchable classic. Flack breathes passion and warmth into Fox’s and Gimble’s timeless lyrics. Her version, which you can hear below, is still an R&B stunner.
Again, you can listen to “Killing Me Softly With His Song” below, followed by the entire Roberta Flack concert from 1980.