Flack Beats Heatwave

As summer temperatures reached 44C (111F) in Melbourne, Australia, traffic lights failed, train lines buckled, shops and movies went dark and the Australian Open tennis championships stopped so the Rod Laver Arena could close its roof for the first time in three years.

The first of two shows by Roberta Flack with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra was postponed, as promoter Bluehawk Presents did not want to risk the safety of the 2,500-strong crowd without air conditioning.

But for the other performance, Flack proved a stunning diva. She recalled Nelson Mandela telling her that listening to “Killing Me Softly” helped him through his jail days. She also told amusing stories and sang encouraging sing-a-longs.