Roberta Flack reveals she has ALS: It’s ‘impossible to sing’
A representative for Roberta Flack announced Monday that the Grammy winner has ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and can no longer sing.
The progressing illness “has made it impossible to sing and not easy to speak,” Flack manager Suzanne Koga said in a press release. “But it takes a lot more than ALS to silence this icon.”
The announcement of the diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis comes just ahead of the premiere of “Roberta,” a feature-length documentary that debuts at the DOCNYC film festival on Thursday.
Flack is known for hits like “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face,” the latter of which catapulted her to fame after Clint Eastwood used it as the soundtrack for a love scene in his 1971 film “Play Misty for me.”
The publication said the Grammy-winning pianist, now 85, “plans to stay active in her musical and creative endeavors” through her eponymous foundation and other avenues.
The documentary, directed by Antonino D’Ambrosio, will be in competition at the festival and available on DOCNYC’s website for a week before airing on television on January 24 as part of PBS’s American Masters series.
Flack also plans to publish a children’s book co-written with Tonya Bolden, The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music, this month. Born in North Carolina and raised in Virginia, Flack is the daughter of pianists and classically trained herself – her talent earning her a full ride to Howard University when she was just 15 years old.
“I’ve long dreamed of telling kids my story about that first green piano that my dad got for me from the junkyard, hoping it would inspire them to pursue their dreams,” Flack was quoted as saying in the press release. “I want them to know that with persistence, the encouragement of family and friends, and most importantly, believing in yourself, dreams can come true.”
The documentary’s television debut and book release will begin in 2023, which will also mark the 50th anniversary of their fourth album, Killing Me Softly, with a reissue. Her label for the first three decades of her career, Atlantic Records, is also celebrating its 75th anniversary.
Flack suffered a stroke in 2016 and spoke to The Associated Press about returning to performing just over two years later. When asked if she would be singing one of her old hits at an upcoming event, she was quick to reply, “There are no old hits,” preferring the term “classic” instead.
“I could easily sing any number of songs I’ve recorded over the years, I could sing them, but I’ll choose the songs that move me,” Flack said. “Well, that’s hard to do. Be moved, constantly moved by your own songs.”
https://nypost.com/2022/11/14/roberta-flack-reveals-she-has-als-its-impossible-to-sing/ Roberta Flack reveals she has ALS: It’s ‘impossible to sing’