In a mellow, laid-back show reflective of her soothing style, songstress Roberta Flack performed for an adoring, if somewhat small audience at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood on March 1.
The 73-year-old singer of such classics as “Killing Me Softly,” “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” and “Feel Like Making Love,” still sings as beautifully as she did decades ago, although the pace and energy of the show at times reflected her seven decades on the planet.
Flack’s clear, pitch-perfect voice blended smoothly with her two background singers, whose outstanding voices should surely lead to solo careers for each of them.
On “Where is the Love,” Flack and her male background singer’s voices sounded tailor-made for each other. And on the best rendition I have ever heard of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “No Woman, No Cry,” Flack’s talented female background singer held the audience spellbound with her powerful vocals and impassioned pleading.
Her stellar, five-piece band helped amply the energy on several songs – beginning at a slowed pace and building to spirited crescendo – especially on the beautifully arranged, “Feel Like Making Love,” which featured a lively saxophone solo.
Flack, a former school teacher, took a few minutes to admonish some of her technology-addicted fans, who not only snapped pictures of her with mobile phones and cameras, but also waved the electronic devices at her.
“Can I finish the concert without you flashing anything?” she asked, acknowledging that despite being “happy, happy, happy,” she was “a little bit annoyed,” with what she considered “bodacious,” behavior.
The ending of the show felt like more of a teaser. After singing a couple of lines of the DeBarge hit “Love Me in a Special Way” so beautifully that I could swear the entire audience leaned forward in our seats anticipating more, Flack said, “Give it up for my band,” and left the stage.
Thankfully, Flack responded to the following emailed questions from the South Florida Times.
SFT: What's your favorite Roberta Flack song?
RF: “And So it Goes.” I wrote this song with Maya Angelou and Barry Miles. You should listen to it if you have not heard it.
SFT: Your recent duet with Maxwell (at the 2010 Grammy’s) was nice. With whom among today’s contemporary artists would you consider recording?
RF: Maxwell is extremely talented, a very sensitive and gifted artist. He is also one of the smartest and sexiest men I have ever met. As far as other contemporary duets, I am very open to the possibilities.
SFT: Any regrets? If you could go back and redo any aspect of your career, what would it be?
RF: I would spend more time practicing my classical piano music. It is where I came from, and I love the classics.
SFT: How do you spend your days?
RF: I have eight dogs and six cats. Need I say more? I go to my gym regularly and am a great believer in holistic healthcare. I try to practice and write regularly, and these days my time is spent arranging, producing and recording an album of Beatles songs for Sony ATV.
SFT: What are your top 5 favorite albums (from any artist)?
RF: 1. Sam Cooke’s, “Ain’t That Good News”
2. The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul”
3. Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life”
4. Leonard Cohen’s “Various Position”
5. Eva Cassidy’s, “Songbird”
SFT: How have you managed to sustain such a long musical career?
RF: Because I believe that in order to stay alive, you must do what you love. As early as I can remember, music has been my love, my life and my language. When you do what you love, your life is right and you are taken care of.
Photo by Martin Fried. Roberta Flack