Roberta Flack planning comeback following health issues

The four-time Grammy-winning singer/songwriter suffered from a stroke in 2016 and tested positive for COVID in January.

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Roberta Flack wants to come back to the stage. At age 85, the singer/songwriter says that she wants to perform live again, despite suffering from health ailments the past few years, including a stroke and contracting COVID.

Flack tested positive for COVID-19 last month, all while still making strides to continue recovering from a stroke she had in 2016. “The pandemic has kept most of us off the stage for two years,” Flack told PEOPLE. “I don’t know what the next two years will hold, but I hope to see my fans in person sometime soon.”

Robert Flack
Roberta Flack attends Black Girls Rock! 2017 backstage at NJPAC on August 5, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

The last time Flack performed on stage was in 2017 while singing a duet with fellow singer/songwriter Valerie Simpson at New York City’s Lincoln Center. The following year, she was rushed to the hospital after appearing at the Apollo Theater during a Jazz Foundation of America benefit concert. She was there to receive a Lifetime Achievement award.

As she continues to recover and make plans for her return to the stage, Flack has many things to celebrate as of late. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of her classic single, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” The song was the first of her three numbers ones on the Billboard Hot 100 and won her the Grammy for Record of the Year.

In addition, her soundtrack to Richard Pryor film Bustin’ Loose became available to digital streaming platforms for the first time on Feb. 11, one day after her 85th birthday. This marked the 40th anniversary of the album, which has been out-of-print for many years.

Flack called the Bustin’ Loose soundtrack one of the “most personally meaningful collections of music” she’s ever recorded, PEOPLE reported. Serving as co-producer on the album, Flack stated that she realized that females did not get opportunities to produce records at the time.

“It was, and to some degree, still is a rare thing for a Black female artist to be asked to produce anything for a major film or a major label,” Flack said. “The glass ceiling that existed then, and let’s face it, still exists now, is gradually being pushed through, but it is a very real challenge for women of any color — especially for women of color.”

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