Tucson-born singer Linda Ronstadt’s birthday to be featured on KXCI radio
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Tucson-born singer Linda Ronstadt’s birthday to be featured on KXCI radio

Music legend and Tucson native Linda Ronstadt will be celebrated by 91.3 KXCI Community Radio on her birthday Monday. from 7 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

KXCI's shows, "Your Morning Brew" and "The Home Stretch," hosted by Hannah Levin, will showcase Ronstadt's life "in and out of the spotlight," according to Amanda Shauger, a KXCI staffer.

Ronstadt's journey as a musician spanned more than four decades from her debut as a member of The Stone Poneys to her final live performance in 2011. Along the way, she earned a reputation as one of rock and pop music's most versatile female vocalists, with an unmistakable voice as strong and powerful as it was sweet and pure. Over the course of her career, she sold over 100 million records worldwide,won 11 Grammys, and landed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In addition to her own musical accomplishments, Ronstadt also played the role of cheerleader, muse and partner in musical crime to friends and colleagues in the industry, collaborating or shining a well-deserved spotlight on fellow artists including Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne, Dolly Parton, the McGarrigle Sisters and Elvis Costello, not to mention her pivotal role in helping launch the Eagles.

In 2014, Ronstadt was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama, with the White House citing her "one-of-a-kind voice and her decades of remarkable music."

She had been elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the year before, just months after she told the world that her renowned singing voice had been silenced by Parkinson's disease.

To Tucsonans, Linda Ronstadt, now 72, has always been more than a musician, as the scion of one of Tucson's founding families and, during her 1970s heyday, a sort of unofficial pop music ambassador for our town.

A few years ago, Ronstadt put her Tucson home on the market to move back to California, and not long afterward, in 2013, the singer retired from the public eye, in the wake of her diagnosis with Parkinson's disease.

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"Her legacy transcends borders with the many different genres and styles she had an impact on, and through other artists she has inspired or blazed a trail for," KXCI's Music Director Duncan Hudson said.

Ronstadt will be featured in an over-the-phone conversation at 9:30 a.m. with "Your Morning Brew" guest host Ernesto Portillo Jr., a former columnist for the Arizona Daily Star.

KXCI hosts will share her "amazing contributions to music worldwide and her humanitarian advocacy in anticipation of the upcoming documentary - Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice," Shauger said.

Hudson explained that they wanted to celebrate Ronstadt, "because she represents Tucson as a great beacon of voice, music, and humanitarian advocacy; from her family's deep musical heritage, connections to Lalo Guerrero and Mariachi music, through popular music during her career as an important and influential female artist."

Although in Tucson's she's now known more for her work covering traditional mariachi songs and appearances as a political activist, four decades ago Ronstadt was known as the "Rock's Venus."

Well before 1987's "Canciones de mi Padre," she launched her career in the late '60s with the Stone Poneys and went on to receive 11 Grammys, an Emmy, two Academy of Country Music awards, and be nominated for the Tonys and Golden Globes.

Heralded for her perfect pitch and a voice so powerful it challenged even the most sturdy microphones, Ronstadt recorded hits such as "You're No Good," "When Will I Be Loved," "Heat Wave," "Blue Bayou" and of course a cover of the Eagles' "Desperado" before turning her attentions to genres as varied as Broadway (appearing to acclaim in "The Pirates of Penzance"), a duet with Mick Jagger ("Tumbling Dice"), a failed opera (a short-lived production of "La Boheme") and a series of pop/jazz albums with arranger Nelson Riddle.

For more information, visit KXCI's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KXCITucson/ and listen at 91.3 FM or their website https://kxci.org/.

TucsonSentinel.com’s Julie Jennings Patterson and Dylan Smith contributed background to this report.


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