The progressive disease “has made it impossible to sing and not easy to speak,” Flack's manager Suzanne Koga said in a statement on Monday (14 November).
“But it will take a lot more than ALS to silence this icon,” she added.
The announcement of this diagnosis comes just ahead of the premiere of Roberta, a feature-length documentary at the DOC NYC film festival on Thursday (17 November).
The release says that the Grammy-winning singer and pianist, now 85, “plans to stay active in her musical and creative pursuits.”
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 Antonino D´Ambrosio-directed documentary will be in competition at the festival and available via DOC NYC’s website for a week after, before airing on television on 24 January 2023 as part of PBS’s American Masters series.
ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
As this area degenerates, it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region, according to ALS.org.
When the motor neurons die, the brain can no longer initiate or control muscle movement. When voluntary muscle action is progressively affected, people may lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe.
Additional reporting by agencies