Linda Ronstadt is one of the most successful female artists of all time, having won 10 Grammys (with 17 additional nominations) and an Emmy, plus having received Tony and Golden Globe nominations.
But her career took a sharp left turn when she discovered she had Parkinson’s disease, which she just went public with last month. The 67-year-old singer has not sung publicly since 2009. She now tells ABC News that something was wrong with her voice for 12 to 15 years before she was finally diagnosed.
“I was struggling to sing for so many years. I knew there
was something dramatically, systemically wrong. And I knew it was
mechanical and it was muscular. … I had no control over the muscular,
you know. … The brain has to be able to send very, very subtle cues to
your vocal chords and get the muscles to vibrate a certain way. … I’d aim for a C and I’d hit a G. It’s like my elevator would go to the wrong floor all the time,” says Ronstadt.
She says when the diagnosis finally came, after the tremors started in her hands, she had a “real, kind of ‘holy s***’ moment.”
“You sort of go, ‘Yow. This has happened,” says Ronstadt. But she appreciates what she is still able to do, even if singing has become hard for her.
“When I wake up in the morning, I think, ‘I can walk and I can talk, so it’s a good day,” says Ronstadt. “‘Cause there’ll probably come a day when I can’t do those things.”