Singer Roberta Flack is no longer able to sing following a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as ALS.
Her management team announced on Monday that the singer’s ALS symptoms “made it impossible to sing and not easy to speak.” The statement added, “But it will take more than ALS to silence this icon.”
“Miss Flack plans to remain active in her musical and creative pursuits,” her team said. “His courage and joyous embrace of music that took him from humble beginnings to the international stage remains vibrant and inspired.”
Flack is said to be looking forward to “a banner year in 2023” and will pursue a “number of projects and anniversaries” celebrating his career and his influence.
Among them is the 50th anniversary of her Grammy-nominated album “Killing Me Softly”, which was certified twice Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The record featured the number one hit “Killing Me Softly with His Song”, which won the 1973 Grammy for Record of the Year.
Flack’s documentary, “Roberta,” premieres at the Doc NYC Film Festival on November 17 and later on PBS on January 24. It explores how she shaped her musical genius and became a powerhouse in the industry.
Flack will also release the children’s book “The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music” on January 10.
“I have long dreamed of telling my story to children about that first green piano my dad bought me from the junkyard in the hopes that they would be inspired to follow their dreams,” the artist said in a statement. “I want them to know that dreams can come true with perseverance, encouragement from family and friends, and above all, self-belief.”
She will also help mark the 75th anniversary of Atlantic Records, which first signed her in 1969.
What you need to know about ALS
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a rare neurological disease that primarily affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that are responsible for controlling muscle movement, including chewing, walking and speaking, according to the National Institutes. of Health.
ALS was once known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a famous 1940s baseball player who was forced into retirement due to illness.
The disease is progressive, which means that the symptoms get worse over time. Currently, there is no cure for ALS, but there are treatments that can prolong survival and slow down how quickly symptoms appear, such as Riluzole and Edaravone. Most people with ALS die within three to five years of the first symptoms appearing, but about 10% of people with ALS will survive more than 10 years, according to the NIH.
The exact cause of ALS remains unknown. Although the disease can be diagnosed at any age, symptoms usually develop between the ages of 55 and 75, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Early symptoms of ALS include:
- Muscle contractions in the arm leg, shoulder or tongue.
- Muscle cramps, weakness and stiffness.
- Blurred and nasal speech.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing.