Softly, Sweetly

You can have "Killing Me Softly with His Song." Roberta Flack's most famous song is a grand treasure, a thing of beauty, and an artwork that makes us proud to be American. And maybe it's blasphemy to say anything even close to negative about the song that also made Lauryn Hill famous. But here goes: "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is a better song. Whaaaa? No, seriously. In its original recording, "The First Time" has a spare arrangement that makes plenty of space for Flack's magnificent voice, a finely trained instrument that easily turns a single note into five, and has a subtlety of emotion that imbues those fireworks with meaning. Of course Ms. Flack is also well known — aka Grammy-winning — for her myriad other hit songs such as "Where Is the Love," but those two are (thank you, Pandora!) our favorites right now.

Davell Crawford opens.
Sun., June 21, 2 p.m., 2009

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