Roberta Flack diagnosed with ALS, can no longer sing, reps say

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Grammy award-winning musician Roberta Flack has ALS, a progressive nervous system disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, leaving her unable to sing, her reps announced Monday (November 14) per the Associated Press.

The amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis “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 comes ahead of the Thursday (November 17) premiere of Roberta, a documentary debuting at the DOCNYC film festival.

Some of Flack’s most notable hits include “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face,” which was used as a soundtrack for a love scene in Clint Eastwood’s 1971 movie Play Misty for Me.

According to Monday’s press release, Flack, now 85, “plans to stay active in her musical and creative pursuits” through her eponymous foundation and other avenues as she battles ALS.

The Grammy winner is also set to publish children’s book “The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music,” which she co-wrote with Tonya Bolden. Flack’s book is inspired by her upbringing in a family of pianists and becoming classically trained herself.

“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, per the release. “I want them to know that dreams can come true with persistence, encouragement from family and friends, and most of all belief in yourself.”

The book is scheduled to be published in January 2023, the same month that the documentary will make its television debut on PBS.

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