Latino song: Choco Orta’s “Killing Me Softly”


Latin and Salsa music “sonera” Choco Orta released the new single “Killing Me Softly” in April 2013, which you can listen to in the link below.

Choco sings the song in English within a Salsa music format, injecting acute “soneos” in both English and Spanish.

“Killing Me Softly” is the short version of the title of this 41-year-old song, which was popularized in 1973 by Roberta Flack as “Killing Me Softly with His Song”. The origins of the song are an interesting story in itself.

How “Killing Me Softly” was Born

Norman Gimbel seemed to have had a 2-part process in the creation of this song. In the late 1960s, Gimbel was working with Argentinean-born composer Lalo Schifrin in trying to come up with a Broadway musical. Schifrin gave Gimbel an Argentinean novel as an idea book, and although the musical never materialized, Gimbel read a passage in the book where a man drinking alone in a bar was listening to a pianist and thought that he was “killing me softly with his blues”. Gimbel noted the words for future reference but placed the word “song” instead of “blues”.

Choco Orta singing Salsa music
Choco Orta is one of Salsa music’s elite singers.

Later, singer Lori Lieberman said she wrote a poem after reacting strongly to the Don McLean song “Empty Chairs”. She related this information to Gimbel, who put it into words and then gave it to Charles Fox for the music. Lori Lieberman then sang the original version of the song in 1972.

Roberta Flack heard the song on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. She wrote it down and called Quincy Jones who contacted Fox. Roberta Flack got the music from Fox and went to work on it with her band. While performing as an opening act for Marvin Gale, Marvin asked her to sing one last song. She told him she would sing a song she was working on, and the public went crazy with it. Marvin advised her “Baby, don’t ever do that song again live until you record it”.

Roberta’s version became a smash hit, spending 4 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 list from February to March of 1973; almost exactly 40 years ago!

Choco Orta’s Salsa Version of “Killing Me Softly”

Choco’s Salsa music version of the song is obviously more energized than Roberta Flack’s ballad version. Choco keeps the essence of Flack’s song version, and injects it nicely into a solid “son montuno”. Orta sings “Killing Me Softly” in its original English form, adding sharp “soneos” in both English and Spanish.

I really like Choco Orta’s Salsa version of the song, and it makes me hungry to experience the rest of her next Salsa music album whenever it’s released (hopefully soon)!

Below is Choco Orta’s Salsa version of “Killing Me Softly”

What do you think of the song?

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    Thank you for such informative article. Choco is definitely the best of the best

    1. Hector Aviles says

      Marangel – thanks for the compliments to Latino Music Café.

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