News reports this week informed that Roberta Flack, 85, the Grammy-winning musician has ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The progressive disease “has made it impossible to sing and not easy to speak,” Flack’s manager Suzanne Koga said in a release.
The announcement of the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis comes just ahead of the premiere of “Roberta,” a feature-length documentary that debuted yesterday (Thursday) Thursday at the DOCNYC film festival. “Roberta” will be available via DOCNYC’s website for a week after, before airing on television Jan. 24 as part of PBS’ “American Masters” series.
Flack is known for hits like “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” My personal favorite is her duet with the late Donny Hathaway.
Flack plans to publish a children’s book co-written with Tonya Bolden, “The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music,” that month. The North Carolina-born, Virginia-raised Flack is the daughter of pianists and classically trained herself — her talent won her a full ride to Howard University at just 15.
“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,” Flack said. “I want them to know that dreams can come true with persistence, encouragement from family and friends, and most of all belief in yourself.”