Legendary Song Artist Roberta Flack Honored in Capitol Hill Ceremony – Photo Essay

Legendary Song Artist Robert Flack Honored in Capitol Hill Ceremony

by Larry Janezich

Posted March 13, 2022

Yesterday, on a snowy Saturday afternoon, legendary songstress Roberta Flack came back to the Capitol Hill neighborhood Victorian Pub where she performed before becoming famous.  She was the honoree at a fire callbox restoration commemorating her talent, her work, her contributions, her legacy and her connection to Mr. Henry’s neighborhood bar a block away.

The callbox is in front of the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church – where the ceremony was held – at 5th and Seward Square, SE. 

The restoration was undertaken by the Constitution Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution which hosted the ceremony.  A reception for guests followed at Mr. Henry’s.

Ms. Flack was also awarded the DAR Women in American History Award – presented during Women’s History Month to honor women who have made or are making an outstanding contribution to their communities. 

The restored fire callbox at 5th Street and Seward Square honor Roberta Flack.  The art work was created by Corey Houlihan of Spacewoman Studio.  See here:  https://www.instagram.com/spacewomanstudio/ Members of the Constitution Chapter of the DAR cleaned and repainted the callbox with technical support from Jim Guckert and Guerilla Gardeners. 

The text on the monument reads, in part:  “Five-Time Grammy Award Winner Roberta Flack’s professional singing career began in 1968 one block east of this call box at Mr. Henry’s Restaurant and Lounge (601 Pennsylvania Ave, SE).  After being “discovered” at Mr. Henry’s, Ms. Flack recorded the Billboard #1 album First Take in 1969.
Before she became a pop legend … Ms. Flack played the organ at her church in Arlington beginning at age 9… [at] 15, she received a full music scholarship to Howard University.  After graduation, Ms. Flack taught music in DC public schools ….  Roberta Flack is the first solo artist to win the Grammy for Record of the Year in two consecutive years.  In 2020, Ms. Flack received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  She is founder of non-profit organizations supporting music education and animal welfare.”

Amanda Murphy, Regent of the DAR Constitution Chapter , spearheaded the two year project to honor Ms. Flack.  In her remarks, she addressed Ms. Flack, saying, “I am thrilled to be here today to unveil this commemoration as part of your legacy and in your honor.” Ms. Flack, pictured above, is center, front row.
Current owner of Mr. Henry’s – Mary Quillian Helms – said she was proud to have Mr. Henry’s associated with Roberta Flack.  Recalling Henry Jaffe who founded Mr. Henry’s in 1966 and hired Ms. Flack to entertain in the downstairs dining room in 1968, Quillian said Jaffe took the bold step of converting two revenue-producing apartments on the second floor to a lounge for Ms. Flack to perform.  She became a sensation after her friend Clint Eastwood used “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in his film Play Misty for Me.  The song became a mega hit in 1972 selling 1.9 million records and topping the charts at #1 for six consecutive weeks.

Ms. Flack receives the DAR Women in American History Award – she said she was “so grateful” to be honored. 


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5 responses to “Legendary Song Artist Roberta Flack Honored in Capitol Hill Ceremony – Photo Essay

  1. Sally M.

    Can we please rename Brent now? Roberta Flack Elementary has a sweet ring!

  2. Penni Doran

    Roberta Flack has always been a favorite of mine. “If Ever I See You Again” is my all time favorite! ❤️

  3. Karl Appl

    … in one of these rooms upstairs lived Rudi, famous barkeeper in Mr Henrys, who in this time visited some relatives in Germany. When he came back to Washington he was a little surprised that he had to look for a new home stay. Nevertheless. The friendship with Roberta Flack lasted until his life end.