A representative for RnB icon Roberta Flack has lost her ability to sing and now struggles to speak due to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The progressive disease “has made it impossible to sing and not easy to speak,” Flack’s manager Suzanne Koga said in a release. “But it will take a lot more than ALS to silence this icon.”
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.
Flack also plans to publish a children’s book co-written with Tonya Bolden, “The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music,” that month. The North Carolina-born, Virginia-raised Flack is the daughter of pianists and classically trained herself — her talent won her a full ride to Howard University at just 15.
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 into stardom after Clint Eastwood used it as the soundtrack for a love scene in his 1971 movie “Play Misty for Me.”