January 25, 2017

Linda Ronstadt: Voice Silenced Due to Health

In 2013, the smooth-voiced singer Linda Ronstadt, who racked up an impressive 11 Grammy awards, 2 Academy of Country Music awards and an Emmy award during her lengthy recording career, revealed that she had Parkinson's Disease, which meant that she, in her own words, "can't sing a note" anymore.  Both AARP interviewed her at http://bit.ly/2cCqiaD and People magazine interviewed her at http://bit.ly/2cBC3JJ which are worth reading.  Evidently, the Parkinson's Disease has also impaired her daily movement, but she said that she can still get around, although certainly not like she used to.

With a recording career that spanned rock, pop, country and everything in between, Linda Ronstadt really did not belong in a single musical genre, only what her voice could accomplish.  Indeed, few pop singers have been as successful, as durable, and as wide-ranging as Linda Ronstadt.  She began her career back in the 1960's in a band called the Stone Poneys, and one of her best-known songs "Different Drum" came from her time there.  Below is a recording of Ms. Ronstadt performing one of her songs with the band in the late 1960's (there is an "official" Vevo video of a live performance on YouTube, but I actually like the sound of this version a little better).  Watch below, or by visiting https://youtu.be/ZhtnB6kSCyA:



Ms. Ronstadt is a music-biz anomaly for many reasons.  For one thing, she grew up on a ranch in the Arizona desert near Tucson, but she is part Mexican even though she speaks (and formerly sang) English perfectly.  Indeed, as a child she grew up with Spanish-language music that her grandfather taught her, although few would mistake Ms. Ronstadt as a Mexican immigrant.  She also spanned musical genres years before others did (I've talked about country cross-over artists before, check the archives for details).  For example, anyone who thinks Taylor Swift is unique because she began in country before moving to rock likely doesn't know Linda Ronstadt, even if they know her famous music.  The former songstress has collaborated with some of Nashville’s best-known recording artists, including her friend Dolly Parton.

Ms. Ronstadt also released a memoir in 2013, reflecting on her long music career.  NPR's Terry Gross, who is the host of the program Fresh Air spoke with Linda Ronstadt, which can be listed to below or at the following link:  http://www.npr.org/2013/09/17/223172521/in-memoir-linda-ronstadt-describes-her-simple-dreams.


Similarly, WNYC's Studio 360 interviewed Linda Ronstadt in August 2014, well after her public disclosure of her Parkinson's Disease diagnosis, which can be listened to below, or by visiting: http://www.wnyc.org/story/linda-ronstandts-curtain-call/.


Finally, NPR's popular Diane Rehm show interviewed Linda Ronstadt in July 2014, around the time her new book was published.  Although I cannot embed that interview, the link can be found at: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2014-07-29/singer-linda-ronstadt-her-life-music.

Although Ms. Ronstadt's voice has been silenced because of her health, her impressive library of recorded music will remain with us.  If you aren't already familiar with her music, now would be a great time to discover her musical library!

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