roberta flack

Roberta Flack.                                     Source: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Getty

Roberta Flack, known for her massive hit “Killing Me Softly,” can no longer sing. Her publicist released a statement stating that due to her diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, it’s “impossible to sing and not easy to speak.”

“Miss Flack plans to stay active in her musical and creative pursuits. Her fortitude and joyful embrace of music that lifted her from modest circumstances to the international spotlight remain vibrant and inspired,” read the statement according to NPR.

ALS is defined as a “rare neurological disease that primarily affects the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement” like talking, walking and chewing. ALS gets worse over time. Symptoms include muscle cramps, muscle weakness, difficulty chewing and swallowing, stiff muscles and muscle twitches and slurred speech.

There’s currently no cure for ALS.

Roberta Flack Will Release A Children’s Book In January 2023

Flack has written a children’s book despite her health issues. A Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music is an autobiographical story from Flack’s childhood about when her father found an old piano that sparked her love for music. A description of the book read:

Growing up in a Blue Ridge mountain town, little Roberta didn’t have fancy clothes or expensive toys…but she did have music. And she dreamed of having her own piano.

When her daddy spies an old, beat-up upright piano in a junkyard, he knows he can make his daughter’s dream come true. He brings it home, cleans and tunes it, and paints it a grassy green. And soon the little girl has an instrument to practice on, and a new dream to reach for–one that will make her become a legend in the music industry.

Flack co-authored the book with Tonya Bolden.

A documentary about Roberta Flack titled Roberta will air on PBS’ American Masters series on Jan. 24.

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