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Roberta Flack unable to sing after ALS diagnosis

Singer Roberta Flack poses for a portrait in New York on Oct. 10, 2018. A representative for Roberta Flack has announced that the legendary singer has ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and can no longer sing. (Photo by Matt Licari/Invision/AP, File)
Roberta Flack can no longer sing due to nerve condition ALS. (AP)

Roberta Flack has been left unable to sing after being diagnosed with degenerative muscle disease ALS.

The 85-year-old American singer — known for hits Killing Me Softly With His Song and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face  is also struggling to speak due to the condition, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Flack's manager said in a statement the disease, "has made it impossible to sing and not easy to speak.

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"But it will take a lot more than ALS to silence this icon."

A documentary about Flack — who has won four Grammy awards and received 14 nominations — is set to premiere in New York later this month.

She is also due to publish a children's book in January.

Watch: Roberta Flack honoured by Jazz Foundation

Her manager added she "plans to stay active in her musical and creative pursuits".

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) affects the nerve cells int he brain and spinal chord that control muscles, leading to slurred speech, twitching and failure to eat or breathe. It is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease after the baseball player who was diagnosed with the condition.

Flack suffered a stroke in 2016.

Roberta Flack on Top Of The Pops in the 1970s. (Getty Images)
Roberta Flack on Top Of The Pops in the 1970s. (Getty Images)

As well as Killing Me Softly — which was covered by The Fugees' Lauryn Hill in 1996 — Flack is known for songs Feel Like Makin' Love and The Closer I Get To You.

She rose to fame after her track The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face was used in the Clint Eastwood film Play Misty for Me.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of her fourth album Killing Me Softly With His Song, released in 1973.

Singer Roberta Flack speaks during a tribute to
Roberta Flack's ability to speak has also been affected. (AP)

Flack said previously she wants her songs to be remembered as "classics" and and not just an "old hit".

The singer insisted: "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.

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"Now that's hard to do. To be moved, to be moved constantly by your own songs."