The American singer, 85, can no longer sing and has trouble speaking as a result of the disease, according to Flack’s rep.
The progressive disease ‘has made it impossible to sing and not easy to speak,’ Flack’s manager Suzanne Koga said in a release, adding: ‘But it will take a lot more than ALS to silence this icon.’
The announcement of the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis comes just ahead of the premiere of Roberta, a feature-length documentary debuting Thursday at the DOCNYC film festival.
Flack is known for hits like Killing Me Softly With His Song and The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face, the latter of which catapulted her into stardom after Clint Eastwood used it as the soundtrack for a love scene in his 1971 movie Play Misty for Me.
The release says that the Grammy-winning singer and pianist, now 85, ‘plans to stay active in her musical and creative pursuits’ through her eponymous foundation and other avenues.
Flack also 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. Her talent won her a full ride to Howard University at just 15.
In 2016, Flack had a stroke and spoke to The Associated Press a little over two years later about returning to performing.
When asked if she´d sing one of her old hits at a then-upcoming event, she quickly retorted: “There´s no such thing as an old hit,” preferring the term “classic” instead.
“I could sing any number of songs that I´ve recorded through the years, easily, I could sing them, but I´m going to pick those songs that move me,” Flack said. “Now that´s hard to do. To be moved, to be moved constantly by your own songs.”