Roberta Flack Reveals ALS Has Caused Loss Of Singing And Speaking Ability

Ahead of her documentary premiere, Roberta Flack has revealed that she’s been battling ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, formally Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The news comes after reports Flack suffered a stroke in 2016.

Though she didn’t disclose many details, Flack did share the illness has made it nearly impossible for the renowned legend to sing and even speak. However, she refuses to let it silence her completely.

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Flack, 85, is set to debut her self-titled documentary this week in competition at DOCNYC. Fans who don’t want to wait for its PBS premiere on Jan. 24, 2023 will be able to stream it from Nov. 18 until Nov. 27.

The Antonino D’Ambrosio-directed film is set to “explore the depth and complexity of her lyrical and thematic choices as well as the sophisticated mix of classical and soul influences on her style in a marvelous monument to a singular and unclassifiable musical genius, with commentary from contemporary artists whom she has inspired.”

Aside from celebrating this moment in her storied career, Flack is gearing up for the arrival of her children’s book, The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music. Hailed as “a moving testimonial to the effects of instilling a love of live music in childhood” by Kirkus Reviews, the book is loosely based on her upbringing in rural North Carolina and explains her early love of music.

“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,” shared the “Closer I Get To You” singer 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.”

Back in May, Flack honored the 50th anniversary of her acclaimed collaborative album, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. Next August, she will celebrate the 50th anniversary of her own classic, Killing Me Softly.

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