Linda Ronstadt Discusses Why Her Disease Isn’t Stopping Her

Linda Ronstadt is a musical chameleon. “The First Lady of Rock” won Grammys not just for her rock music but also for her country, Latin, and pop hits. Starting off as a singer in a folk trio with her siblings at the age of 14, Ronstadt was at the top of the charts for decades. However, she retired from singing over ten years ago after being diagnosed with an incurable disease and losing her singing voice. The icon isn’t letting that stop her from living.

Ronstadt began recording hit songs 55 years ago with the ’60s pop song, “Different Drum.” From there, the “Queen of Rock” went on to record 24 studio albums, selling over 100 million records worldwide. The singer has won 11 Grammy awards, received multiple lifetime achievement awards, and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in April 2014.

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Ronstadt could feel a change in her singing voice in 2000. In 2011, she retired her vocals. The following year, Ronstadt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. However, her condition was reevaluated in 2019 and diagnosed as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, an incurable degenerative disease.

What does a vocalist do when they lose their voice? In Ronstadt’s case, you team up with a former New York Times writer, Lawrence Downes, to pen a cookbook. The funny thing is, Ronstadt has admitted that she doesn’t cook. Even when it comes to making tortillas—a staple in her childhood home—Rondstadt told CBS News, “I try to make them, and they just look like amoebas!”

Instead of releasing a cookbook, the Grammy award-winner penned a memoir. In Feels Like Home, Ronstadt shares what it was like to grow up in Tucson, Arizona in a family of ranchers. From talking about being part of a musical family to eating food made for ranchers, the retired vocalist is still sharing her voice with the world.

The book celebrates Ronstadts’ heritage, culture, and family while depicting life in the Sonoran Desert. Reflecting on her memoir, the retired singer said, “Our past is who we are. It doesn’t have to define you. If you have a bad past, you can make up for it! Everybody’s interested in where they came from.”

The former singer isn’t letting her incurable disease stop her from living her life. In fact, she doesn’t spend much time worrying about it. “I think about end-of-life issues a lot,” Ronstadt said. “But I’m not gonna worry about it. I have other things to worry about. Like the cat peed on the rug or something, real issues!”

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