Roberta Flack, the legendary Grammy-winning artist, was diagnosed with ALS on Monday, according to her spokesperson. ALS, often known as Lou Gehrig’s illness, is a degenerative condition that has supposedly made Flack helpless of singing.
According to Flack’s manager, Suzanne Koga, the sickness has rendered it hard for Caroline to sing or speak. However, it will take far more than ALS to quiet this icon. The startling diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis comes just days before the release of Roberta, a feature-length documentary on the icon’s life, which is set to premiere on Thursday at the DOC NYC film festival.
Flack is best known for singles such as The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face and Tonight I Celebrate My Love, the latter of which launched her to fame after Clint Eastwood used it as the music for a love scene in his film Play Misty for Me (1971). Considering her illness, the singer and pianist, 85, intends to be engaged in her musical and creative endeavours through her eponymous foundation and other outlets, according to the announcement.
She has long wanted to tell her kids about the first green piano her father purchased for her from a junkyard in the hopes that it would encourage them to pursue their own goals. She wants kids to understand that through perseverance, support from family and friends, and most importantly, faith in yourself, dreams can come true, the release included a quotation from Flack. The singer also intends to publish The Green Piano: How Little We Found Music, a children’s book co-written with Tonya Bolden.
The famed pianist was born in North Carolina and nurtured in Virginia by her musical parents. She is also classically trained, and her abilities got her a full ride to Howard University at the age of 15.
Flack spoke out two years after having a stroke in 2016 about her hopes of returning to the stage to perform. There’s no such thing as an old hit, she said when questioned if she would perform one of her previous singles at an upcoming event, choosing the word “classic.” She could easily perform any number of songs that she’s recorded over the years, but she is going to choose those songs that touch her, which is difficult to do. To be touched, to be touched consistently by one’s own music.
Flack’s path from lowly piano instructor to one of the most important vocalists in the American music industry will be chronicled in the new documentary. It will include footage from the Killing Me Softly singer’s life, as well as interviews with Clint Eastwood, Yoko Ono, Angela Davis, Eugene McDaniels, Joel Dorn, Peabo Bryson, and others.