Many of us remember a young, vibrant, soulful, and petite woman who wore her hair in a perfect and huge natural hair style known as an "afro-style". When she sat at the piano, began to play and sing, your heart melted. She had an aura that caused you to abandon your soul to her tender voice. She told her a story in poetic for with lyrics that spoke of love - that which was lost and present. She'd also sing of friendship, sexual rendezvous, social climate, tragedy, ecology, human conditions, life in every facet, and death of relationships, a particular time period, and ways of thinking.
She continued her career through the 1970's into the 21st century, captivating audiences with her voice, her song, her musicianship at the piano, and her benevolence.
Roberta Flack is the voice and soul that touch an audience at Bovard Auditorium on the campus of the University of Southern California on Friday, October 10, 2008. Although the hairstyle has changed a bit from "back in the day", the voice, musicianship, and spirit remains as magical, soulful, and remarkable as ever.
Ms. Flack was accompanied by an incredible ensemble of musicians and additional vocalist that joined her on a few pieces.
She began with a memorable gem, "Killing me softly with His Song". The elegance and alluring of her words had a similar effect on the audience of "killing us softly...”
Roberta turned a classic piece totally upside down with an novel groove on "Sweet Georgia Brown", who Ms. Flack describes has having "Tina Turner legs"....Hmm.
The piece had a fusion, funk, blues, and syncopation situation coupled with an underline spiritual-like effect. It was more 21st century style, but the essence of "Sweet Georgia Brown" was felt as I'm sure it was at Newport in 1958 when the unmatched Jazz Vocalist, Anita O' Day blew it out of the box.
A melody of Marvin Gaye tunes was shared with a totally different spin but poignant message with regard to economy, war, poverty, classism, greed, selfishness, lies, hypocrisy, peace, love, social consciousness, hope, and brotherhood.
"Inner City Blues, Mercy, Mercy Me, Save the Children".
Sly and the Family Stone's "It’s a Family Affair" was also performed with fond memories by many audience members. Roberta tried to get us on the beat with a count and clap in singing on "It's a Family Affair" but we couldn't quite keep up with her patient and soulful leading. Yet, we joined in...Although a bit behind the beat.
Roberta's engaging and caring manner assisted all in relaxing and participating in the incredible musical arrangements. I was taken back in time by tunes of another decade. I also took note that we faced the same political, social, economic, and human challenges in 2008.
Music would once again play a pivotal role and speak to us to help bridge and heal the heartache, lost, and gaps.
A beautiful lady dressed in Silver and Black would share another poignant song, Carol King's "Will you still love me tomorrow" and many of the audience joined in at Ms. Flack's request in harmony and unity.
It was beautiful...
Roberta Flack and Tony Terry sang a loving duet entitled, "Tonight, I celebrate My Love for You". This touching love song was originally written for but not performed by Julio Iglesias and Diana Ross. Roberta and Tony placed a signature stamp on it that night.
Roberta continued to woo us through the night singing "The First time ever I saw your face" wrapped in total warmth, love, and passion.
Her ability to connect and care embraced us all evening.
The audience was called once again to join in on the sexy and sultry piece, "That's the time, feel like making love". The song was performed in such a tasteful and delicate fashion that even the most conservative fan had to join in and think of that special someone.
Roberta and her ensemble rocked the house with Stevie Wonder's Master Blaster and shouts could be heard throughout the auditorium on the '70's interesting and provocative, "Reverend Lee" I wouldn't exactly call it Sunday go to meetin'...as he was tempted with "Satan's daughter, who was according to Ms. Flack, was "Fine and a 36-22-48"...
"I'll Stand By You" was a song sang with true camaraderie brought us cohesively together to sing a verse of the piece without reservation.
Before the night was completed, Roberta shared a few profound and lasting words, "You can take a song you've done for years and always find something beautiful in it"
This was truly accomplished by Ms. Flack and her ensemble. She is as beautiful, engaging, controversial, and dynamic as ever gave us all a night to remember.