It’s hard to believe that the voice that influenced some of country music’s biggest stars has been mostly silent for the past four years. But it has been since 2013, when Linda Ronstadt first shared the news that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and that it was affecting her famous voice.
Linda stepped away from the spotlight after that diagnosis, but she recently spoke with “The Guardian,” and talked about both her diagnosis and her prolific music career. While one might imagine that a singer not being able to sing would be devastating, Linda has an amazing perspective on her reality.
“Singing was certainly a part of my identity, but it was never the whole thing,” she says. “It was something I did, but I always felt defined more by where I was from, who my parents were, who my family were and how I interacted with them. Being a successful singer was only a fraction of it.”
That isn’t to say she doesn’t miss singing. Linda adds, “I miss harmony singing more than anything. I especially miss when everybody in my family sings and plays music. When we got together, it was the main thing that bound us. And a lot of my friendships have music at the core. I could call up Emmylou Harris and we would sing together over the phone. Now we visit for hours and we have a lot to talk about — kids, gardens, pets, families and what’s going on in our lives. But music took up such a huge part of that, it’s sort of a gaping hole, you know?”
Fortunately, Linda recorded three albums with her family—“Canciones de Mi Padre,” “Mas Canciones” and “Frenesi” that chronicle those favorite family songs. And Linda, along with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris recorded two “Trio” projects together. The first earned the trio an ACM Award and the second scored the friends a Grammy Award (one of 10 Grammys Linda earned in her career). In 1974, Linda also won the ACM for “Best New Female Artist.”
Surprisingly, in that same interview with The Guardian Linda said she wasn’t a fan of her own recordings. “When I listen to all my old stuff, I tend to be horrified,” she said. Responding to another question on that topic, she said that of her 28 albums, “I don’t like any of them,” but did concede “there are moments on some records that I like,” including the “Trio” projects.