Roberta Flack was introduced to "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" when her singer friend Donal Leace played her the folk duo Joe & Eddie's 1963 version. Flack, who was teaching at the time, fell in love with the song and taught it to the young girls in the Glee Club at Washington DC's Banneker Junior High School.
Flack would regularly perform "The First Time" at the Pennsylvania Avenue club Mr. Henry's where she was a resident singer. After signing with Atlantic records, it was one of her first choices when it came to choosing tracks for her debut album. "The tempo and arrangement of the song came as a part of the way I felt the story of the song," she explained to Songwriter Universe
. "When you express your feelings about the first time you ever see a great love, you don't rush the story."