Sean Lennon Recalls Growing Up Next Door to ‘Aunt’ Roberta Flack: ‘Coolest Neighbor in the World’

At the point when Roberta Flack moved into the Dakota in the 1970s, she took up home close to the New York City apartment building’s most famous tenants: John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Soon, they shared something other than walls, and a decades-long kinship created between the musicians, Sean Lennon recalls in Roberta, another documentary chronicling Flack’s legendary life that will debut on Thursday. “I was extremely honored that I grew up with the coolest neighbor on the planet,” Sean, 47, says in the film.

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“From the get go, I didn’t actually think of Roberta as this incredible artist and musician, she was only this really cool neighbor. We used to call her Aunt Roberta, and we were exceptionally close.”

The star says Flack, 85, would offer uplifting statements when he started learning to play the guitar, and that she and Ono, 89, became “excellent companions” — especially after John Lennon was shot and killed external the building in December 1980. “They saw each other because they were both incredibly influential ladies,” Sean says.

“My mother, she’d be in the studio producing my dad’s records, and individuals don’t really think about that. They imagine this kind of calm sweetheart, however my mother is often a dominating force in the room and I think Roberta was very much like that. They both dealt with that kind of sexism, yet it’s something that they overcame, and they were intense.”

The pair eventually cooperated, as well. In 1984, Flack recorded a version of Ono’s song “Farewell Sadness” for the album Each Man Has a Woman, which was made as a recognition for the artist for her 50th birthday. Ono had originally released the song on Seasons of Glass, her most memorable performance recording after John’s death.

The album cover famously featured the bloodstained glasses the former Beatle was wearing at the hour of his death.

In Roberta, Ono is featured in an old interview, reflecting on the ways in which the “Killing Me Softly with His Song” singer transformed the pith of “Farewell Sadness” with her profound voice.

“Mine was trying to disappear from distress. However, in her song, it really seems like farewell, sadness, and you really feel that it’s gone,” Ono says in the documentary.

“She has the capacity to take songs as an instrument to communicate her thoughts, yet each time she does that, it becomes Roberta.”

She continues: “We’re extremely near each other and our kitchen is connected and there was a beautiful, spiritual exchange working together on this album.” However they lived as neighbors for decades, Flack listed her Dakota apartment for sale in 2015, and it eventually sold in 2018. Ono actually lives in the celebrated building, which sits on Central Park West.

In 2010, Flack talked about her time in the Dakota in an interview with The New York Times, saying it was “chockablock brimming with famous individuals,” yet the greater part of them “will generally mind their own business,” including her. She also recalled watching Sean and John Lennon get to know one another, telling the power source: “Sean cherished his dad.

There was a great deal of holding hands and looking up, and a ton of holding hands and looking down.”

Roberta, a feature-length doc, will celebrate Flack’s “distinctive voice, songs, piano gifts and her indomitable soul,” according to an official statement.

It’ll cover her legendary career — which includes four Grammy wins — as well as her work as a social equality activist.

Its debut comes the same week a spokesperson for Flack announced that the star was diagnosed in August with ALS, which has denied her of her voice.

The disease “has made it difficult to sing and difficult to speak,” the spokesperson said. “”It will take significantly more than ALS to quiet this icon. Miss Flack plans to stay active in her musical and creative pursuits. Her fortitude and euphoric embrace of music that lifted her from unassuming circumstances to the international spotlight remain vibrant and inspired.”

“The Initial occasion when I Saw Your Face” singer experienced a stroke in 2016, however told Individuals in February, before her diagnosis, that she was eagerly awaiting a re-visitation of performing. “The pandemic has kept the vast majority of us off the stage for two years,” she said.

“I don’t understand what the following two years will hold, yet I desire to see my fans in person in the not so distant future.”

Roberta will debut at the DOCNYC film festival on Thursday and will be available to the general population on Jan. 24 as part of the PBS “American Masters” series.