Grammy-winning artist Roberta Flack has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the progressive illness commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and is unable to sing.
Flack's manger Suzanne Koga announced the news Monday, saying in a statement that the neurodegenerative disorder "has made it impossible to sing and not easy to speak," according to the Associated Press. But, Koga added, "it will take a lot more than A.L.S. to silence this icon." Flack still "plans to stay active in her musical and creative pursuits."
Flack, 85, is best known for her hit songs "Killing Me Softly With His Song" and "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face," and a documentary about her, Roberta, will premiere Thursday at the Doc NYC film festival, before airing Jan. 24 on PBS. Flack's fourth studio album, Killing Me Softly, will also be reissued for its 50th anniversary next year.
Michael Tran/FilmMagic Roberta Flack
In January, Flack plans to publish a children's book co-written with Tonya Bolden. Titled The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music, it's based on the true story of a piano Flack's father rescued from a junkyard and repaired for her, setting her on a musical path.
"I have long dreamed of telling my story to children… in the hope that they would be inspired to reach for their dreams," Flack said in a statement. "I want them to know that dreams can come true with persistence, encouragement from family and friends, and most of all belief in yourself."