Linda Ronstradt: Sound of My Voice, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, traces Ronstandt’s life from her childhood in Tucson, Arizona to her massive concerts in the largest stadiums in America. Archival footage from various stages of her life and interviews with Ronstradt’s friends–Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Emmy Lou Harris, Don Henley, Dolly Parton, Aaron Neville, David Geffen, Cameron Crowe–provide a clear picture of Ronstradt’s rise to stardom.
It becomes clear that Linda Ronstradt could sing nearly anything and make it sound wonderful. She sang popular interpretations of American Songbook Standards with the great Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra. Ronstradt sang and performed in The Pirates of Penzance. She sang country-western songs and traditional Mexican canciones. Ronstradt’s relationship with Jerry Brown highlights the segment on romance, but my favorite story was when J.D. Souther asked Ronstradt if she’d make dinner for him. Ronstradt said, “Sure, come to my apartment tomorrow at 6:00 P.M.” When Souther arrived, Ronstradt made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It must have been a great PBJ sandwich because Souther invited Ronstradt to move in with him on the spot.
The heart of Linda Ronstradt: Sound of My Voice centers around the music. Whether it’s Gilbert and Sullivan operetta or traditional mariachi music or covers of Motown songs, the incredible voice of Linda Ronstradt displays her range and versatility. Yet the sound of Ronstradt’s voice gets silenced by Parkinson’s disease. This great documentary ends with tragedy. But the music remains. Do you have a favorite Linda Ronstradt song? GRADE: A