Legendary soul singer Roberta Flack has ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and while the disorder has made it impossible for the 85-year-old to continue singing, she said it won’t end her contributions to music.
Suzanne Koga, the “Killing Me Softly With His Song” singer’s manager made the announcement Monday saying the disease “has made it impossible (for Flack) to sing and not easy to speak,” according to the Associated Press.
“But it will take a lot more than ALS to silence this icon,” Koga added.
The announcement of the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis comes just ahead of the premiere of “Roberta,” a feature-length documentary debuting Thursday at the DOCNYC film festival.
The release says that the Grammy-winning singer and pianist, now 85, “plans to stay active in her musical and creative pursuits” through her eponymous foundation and other avenues.
The Antonino D’Ambrosio-directed documentary will be in competition at the festival and available via DOCNYC’s website for a week after, before airing on television Jan. 24 as part of PBS’ “American Masters” series.
Not only is Flack not letting her illness prevent her from being involved in music, but she won’t let it block her contributions to literature either as she’s planning to publish a children’s book co-written with Tonya Bolden titled, “The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music.”
“I have long dreamed of telling my story to children about that first green piano that my father got for me from the junkyard in the hope that they would be inspired to reach for their dreams,” Flack said, according to AP. “I want them to know that dreams can come true with persistence, encouragement from family and friends, and most of all belief in yourself.”
Both the documentary and children’s book are set to be released in January 2023.
According to Vulture, Flack’s last live singing performance was at Lincoln Center in July 2017, a year after she had a stroke in 2016.
“I could sing any number of songs that I’ve recorded through the years, easily, I could sing them, but I’m going to pick those songs that move me,” Flack told AP about two years after her stroke. “Now that’s hard to do. To be moved, to be moved constantly by your own songs.”
And we are all still moved, whether she’s physically able to sing the songs herself or not.
Roberta Flack Diagnosed With ALS & Can No Longer Sing But Refuses To Be Silenced was originally published on cassiuslife.com
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