Roberta Flack

COVER vs ORIGINAL: ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’

The song, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, was originally recorded by Peggy Seeger in 1957

“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was written by Ewan MacColl (1915-1989), father of Kirsty MacColl, in 1957 and recorded by Margaret ‘Peggy’ Seeger (b.1935), who later married MacColl. It was never released commercially and thus has no chart of sales stats for it. Its first appearance came in 1962 when US band The Kingston Trio recorded it for their album “New Frontier”.

Numerous other acts later ‘covered’ it but the song’s first major chart appearance came in 1972 when singer Roberta Flack (b.1937) performed the song for her album “Quiet Fire”. It was released as a single and became her ‘breakout hit’ when it topped the US singles chart as well as in Australia and Canada, making No.14 in the UK.

“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” has been covered many times since, but most notably by Celine Dion in 1999 for her best of “All The Way…A Decade Of Song” album. It was released as a single in the UK in early 2000, reaching No.19 there.

British reality show singers Leona Lewis (in 2007) and Matt Cardle (in 2012) have also covered the song while in 2020, singer James Blake has recorded a new version of the song, once again from a male perspective. How well will his new version do…?

So which version is the best? PEGGY’s original, ROBERTA’s classic, CELINE’s cover or JAMES’ new version?

Take a look at some of the other posts in this series and don’t forget to follow the playlist.


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