ROBERTA Flack’s rep has confirmed that the award-winning musician can no longer sing after her ALS diagnosis.
The singer had not previously spoken publicly about her battle with the disease, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Per USA Today, Roberta’s manager Suzanne Koga said the disease “has made it impossible to sing and not easy to speak.”
She added: “But it will take a lot more than ALS to silence this icon.”
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
The singer is 85.
The news came days ahead of the premiere of Roberta, a documentary set to debut at the DOCNYC film festival on Thursday.
Roberta is known for her hit songs Killing Me Softly With His Song and The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.
According to the release from her manager, Roberta “plans to stay active in her musical and creative pursuits.”
She will do so through her foundation and other avenues.
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Despite the progressive disease and the struggles it has presented for Roberta, she has been plenty busy.
In addition to her musical pursuits, Roberta wrote a children’s book.
She teamed up with Tonta Bolden to cowrite The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music.
Roberta, born in North Carolina but raised in Virginia, was raised by pianists.
She classically trained herself at a young age.
Her talent was noticed at a young age and she was awarded a full-ride scholarship to Howard University at 15.
In the release for the book, she said: “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.
“I want them to know that dreams can come true with persistence, encouragement from family and friends, and most of all belief in yourself.”
Her ALS diagnosis isn’t the only healthy problem Roberta has had as of late.
In 2016, she suffered a stroke.
A little over two years later, she opened up about returning to the stage in an interview with The Associated Press.
Asked if she would sing one of her old hits when she got back to performing, she said: “There’s no such thing as an old hit.”
She then said: “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.”
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