In the fall of 1983, Roberta Flack performed at Alfred University with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Her touring band was with her, but the full orchestra was behind them. Gymnasiums aren't the best sonic environment - two years later, drummer Buddy Rich would mutter, "Fucking gyms" during a break at a gig at AU - but I had great seats in the balcony just above stage left. This was the last gasp, in some ways, of a style of performing like this. One of her collaborators, the great Donny Hathaway, had died. Later that winter, Marvin Gaye would be murdered by his senile father. Michael Jackson's Thriller was rushing out record shop doors faster than most could get it in.
But so were recordings by Sugar Hill Gang and Grand Master Flash. The next year, three guys from Hollis in Brooklyn who called themselves Run D.M.C. would release their first full length album, King of Rock. The musical landscape was about to change.
All the same, the show was phenomenal. Some performers are just must-sees.