The 72-year-old spoke with CBS News about how the degenerative disease has changed her life and if it has affected her singing abilities very much.
Ronstadt’s career was prominent in the mid to late seventies. Her biggest hits include cover songs such as You’re No Good (1975) and Blue Bayou (1977). In 1986, she collaborated with the late-James Ingram on the 1986 smash-hit, Somewhere Out There.
Throughout her career, Ronstadt has won a plethora of awards, including the National Medal of Arts and Humanities. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 and in her time, has sold more than 100 million albuma across the globe.
Ronstadt played her final concert in 2009. She then announced her retirement in 2011 and further revealed her Parkinson’s diagnosis in late 2013.
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During the in-depth interview, Ronstadt revealed she noticed she was losing her voice way back in 2000 when asked by correspondent Tracy Smith. “I’d start to sing and then it would just clamp up,” the singer said. “It was like a cramp. My voice would freeze.”
“People would say, ‘Oh, you’re just a perfectionist.’ Then I’d go, ‘No, there’s really something systemically wrong.’
She said that at the time she wasn’t sure what it could be, as Parkinson’s is a “very slow-moving disease,” and she wasn’t diagnosed until years later in January 2013. “It took a long time to really finally manifest,” she added.
“Instead of singing, I was just kind of yelling. I didn’t want to charge people for that.”
When asked if she thought the audience noticed her deteriorating voice, Ronstadt admitted she thought they did, but that even if they couldn’t it would still bother her.
“I could hear it,” she continued. “It wasn’t fun anymore. There really are a lot of things you can do with your voice — you can slide on all different sorts of textures and things — and if you’re not doing that, it’s not interesting.”
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Ronstadt revealed she can no longer sing in the shower and that when she tries, she simply cannot. “It doesn’t , she said. “I can’t make sound.”
However, even in her unfortunate state of health, Ronstadt has remained positive thanks to perpetual technological advancements.
“ talked over the years about various treatments that could make singing come back,” she added.
“I’m sure they’ll find something eventually. They’re learning so much more about it every day.”
Without prompt, the When Will I Be Loved? singer wasn’t afraid to talk about her mortality. “I’m 72,” she said. “We’re all gonna die. I’ve watched people die, so I’m not as afraid of dying.”
“They say people usually die with Parkinson’s,” she continued. “They don’t always die of it, because it’s so slow-moving, so I figure I’ll die of something .”
“I’m afraid of suffering. But I’m not afraid of dying.”
Ronstadt admitted that when the day comes, she’d like to be singing when she passes on. “That’s the way I’d like to die, is right in the middle of a note,” she claimed.
Ronstadt now spends her time reading books. While she cannot stay very active, she admitted she’s a lazy person and loves to “lounge” at home in San Francisco.
Although Ronstadt is now retired, she just released her first-ever live album on Friday. The record features 12 of her greatest hits. It was recorded on April 24, 1980, at the Television Center Studios.
Live in Hollywood was distributed under the Rhino record label and is now available worldwide.
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