Happy Birthday to Oscar-winning singer/actress, Irene Cara who turns 54 today.
Cara gained stardom for her role in the 1980 film Fame, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination, and her recording of the song “Fame” became an international hit. She won an Academy Award in 1984 in the category of Best Original Song for co-writing “Flashdance… What a Feeling”, which also became an international hit.”
A veteran actor of stage as well, Cara appeared in on-and off-Broadway theatrical shows including the musicals Ain’t Misbehavin,’ The Me Nobody Knows (which won an Obie award). Cara’s made her film debut playing Angela in the romantic thriller, Aaron Loves Angela and starred in the title role in the iconic musical, Sparkle.
Cara also shined in serious dramatic roles in two outstanding mini-series, Roots: The Next Generations and Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. But it was her next film that would forever thrust her from the shadows and turn her into an international superstar.
Originally cast as a dancer in Fame, Cara’s part was rewritten when they heard her voice. She sang both the film’s title song and the single, Out Here on My Own vaulting the film’s soundtrack to the top of the charts on it’s way to multi-platinum status. The film also made history with both songs being nominated for Oscars, the first time two songs from the same film were nominated in the same category and both sung by the same artist. Thus, Cara had the opportunity to be one of the few singers to perform more than one song at the Oscar ceremony.
Cara earned Grammy nominations in 1980 for Best New Female Artist and Best New Pop Artist, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical. Billboard Magazine named her Top New Single Artist, while Cashbox Magazine awarded her both Most Promising Female Vocalist and Top Female Vocalist.
In 1983, Cara appeared as herself in the film D.C. Cab, which is a film about a group of cabbies. The movie stars Mr. T. One of the characters, Tyrone played by Charlie Barnett, is an obsessed Cara fan who decorated his Checker Cab as a shrine to her. Her contribution to the film’s soundtrack, “The Dream (Hold On To Your Dream)” played over the closing credits of the film, and proved to be a minor hit.
In 1982, Cara earned the Image Award for Best Actress when she co-starred with Diahann Carroll and Rosalind Cash in Maya Angelou’s Sister, Sister. Shea also portrayed Myrlie Evers-Williams in the TV movie about civil rights leader Medgar Evers, For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story; and earned an NAACP Image Award Best Actress nomination.
In 1983, Cara reached the peak of her music career with the title song for the movie Flashdance: “Flashdance… What A Feeling”, which she co-wrote with Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey. Cara penned the lyrics to the song with Keith Forsey while riding in a car in New York heading to the studio to record it; Moroder composed the music. She admitted later that she was initially reluctant to work with Giorgio Moroder because she had no wish to invite further comparisons with Donna Summer, another Moroder favorite. But the collaboration paid off and became a hit in several countries, garnering numerous accolades for Cara. She won the 1983 Academy Award for Best Song (Oscar), 1984 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, 1984 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, and American Music Awards for Best R&B Female Artist and Best Pop Single of the Year.
Today, Cara lives in Florida and works with her band Hot Caramel. She released an album, Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel in April 2011.