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Roberta Flack’s ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’ gets AI reworking

We know, we know. To many people the idea that ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’ needs a reworking by anything or anyone (who isn’t the Fugees) will be heresy.

And yet… Flack is fully on board with what AI music startup Endel has done with one of her most famous songs.

It’s part of Endel’s partnership with Warner Music Group, in this case focused on the latter’s Rhino Entertainment division.

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Endel has used the original stems from Flack’s recording to create three ‘soundscape’ albums to suit different activities: focus and productivity, relaxation and sleep.

“The new frontiers of AI and functional music give Roberta a new door of opportunity to step through as a part of the future of music and technology in a way that helps the world to grow,” said Flack’s manager Suzanne Koga.

All three soundscape albums can be pre-saved for listening on streaming services including Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, Tidal and YouTube Music.

The news follows hot on the heels of Endel’s announcement of plans to make 50 soundscape album playlists using the catalogue of another WMG subsidiary, dance label Spinnin’ Records.

The startup also signed deals with Universal Music Group and Amazon Music earlier this year, making it one of the best-connected AI music firms in terms of industry partnerships.

Until recently, Endel worked directly with artists to create original stems that its AI model could transform into longer soundscapes. James Blake, Plastikman and Grimes were among its early partners.

However, early this year the company announced that its system could now take existing recordings (or at least their stems) and turn them into a soundscape – still with the artist’s permission, but not requiring their direct involvement. The ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’ soundscapes are an example of that.

“Roberta Flack’s song is a soul masterpiece, and this is the first time that Endel has reworked a classic song in this way,” said CEO Oleg Stavitsky. “We strived to treat the source material with utmost respect and wanted to create something special for the song’s 50th anniversary.”