Home >> Artists >> Artists C >> Irene Cara >> Irene Cara Biography

Irene Cara Biography

Browse Artists: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9
Products Discography Biography Links

Irene Cara (born Irene Escalera on March 18, 1959 in The Bronx, New York City) is an American singer, Academy Award-winning songwriter and actress of African, Cuban and Puerto Rican descent.

Cara won an Academy Award in 1984 in the category of Best Original Song for co-writing Flashdance...What a Feeling. She is best known for her recordings of the songs Fame and Flashdance... What a Feeling. She also starred in the 1980 film version of Fame.

Click here to listen to an audio clip from the song Flashdance...What a Feeling.

Her father Gaspar (died in 1994) is an Afro-Puerto Rican. Her mother Louise Escalera is of French and Cuban descent. [1](scroll down for a colour picture of Irene & her parents). One color [2] and four B/W pix [3][4] [5] [6] of Irene's parents. She has 2 sisters and 2 brothers.

Married Hollywood stuntman Conrad Palmisano [7] in 1986. They divorced in 1991.

Her age has always been a confusing mystery by biographers who stated her birth year as either 1964 or 1959 from the day she shot to fame. In July 2004 the Associated Press claimed to have found her voter registration record in Florida, where she lives. However, Ms. Cara has never voted or registered to do so in Florida.

Irene first captivated the audiences of her family sometime after her fifth birthday when she began to play the piano by ear. Irene soon moved into serious studies of music, acting, and dance. Her career started on Spanish-language television as a child, professionally singing and dancing. By age 8, Cara recorded a Latin-market Spanish-language record; an English Christmas album soon followed.

From there, Cara appeared in on- and off-Broadway theatrical shows including the musical The Me Knowbody Knows (which won an Obie award) and Maggie Flynn, opposite Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy.

As a pre-teen, Her first national exposure was in the educational series The Electric Company, playing a member of the band The Short Circus. The series also featured Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno, Morgan Freeman, Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers and Gene Wilder.[8][9][10][11][12] [13][14][15][16]

Next came her role as Angela in romance thriller classic Aaron Loves Angela, followed by her portrayal of Sparkle in Sparkle.

Television brought Irene international acclaim for serious dramatic roles in two outstanding mini series, Roots: The Next Generations, the critically acclaimed adaptation of Alex Haley’s moving novel and Guyanna Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones.

1980s box office smash movie Fame catapulted Irene to stardom. As Coco Hernandez she sang both the title song Fame and the film’s second hit single Out Here On My Own. This made the movie soundtrack be a multi-platinum album that topped the charts. Further history was made when at the Academy Awards that year; for the first time two songs from one film were nominated in the same category: Fame and Out Here On My Own. Cara had the opportunity to be one of the few singers to perform more than one song at the Oscar ceremony. (Note: Robert Goulet, who sang all the Oscar-nominated songs in 1963, is among several singers who had done so in the past.) Fame, written by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford, won the award that year.

Fame earned Irene a 1980 Grammy nominations 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 Irene "Top New Single Artist," while Cashbox awarded her both "Most Promising Female Vocalist" and "Top Female Vocalist."

In 1982 Irene earned the Image Award for Best Actress when she co-starred with Diahann Carroll and Rosalind Cash in the NBC Movie of the Week, Maya Angelou's Sister, Sister. Irene portrayed Myrlie Evers-Williams in the PBS 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. She also was in 1982's Killing 'em Softly.

In 1983, Irene's title song for the movie Flashdance Flashdance...What A Feeling, which she co-wrote with Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey won her numerous awards. 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, Top Female Vocalist-Pop Singles, Black Contemporary Female Vocalist-Pop Singles, Top Pop Crossover Artist-Black Contemporary Singles, Pop Single of the Year, American Music Awards for Best R&B Female Artist and Best Pop Single of the Year.

In 1984 she was in City Heat and in 1985 she was in Certain Fury and in 1986 she was in Busted Up. She provided the voice of Snow White in the unofficial sequel to Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Filmation's Happily Ever After in 1993.

Along with her successful career in acting, Cara released three albums in the 1980s: Anyone Can See in 1982, What A Feelin' in 1983 and Carasmatic in 1987. She also released a compilation of Euro-dance singles in the mid to late 90's entitled Precarious 90's.

In June 2005, Irene won the third round of NBC television series Hit Me Baby One More Time, performing "Flashdance (What a Feeling)" and covered Anastacia's hit "I'm Outta Love" with her current band, Hot Caramel.

At the 2006 AFL Grand Final in Melbourne, Cara performed "Flashdance (What a Feeling)" as an opener to the pre-match entertainment.

She lives in Florida and continues work in preparation for her band Hot Caramel's album.

Latino Playwrights Award: Award of Recognition. [1985]

Golden Eagle Awards: Nosotros - Latin America Performer of the Year [1984]

Grammy Awards: Best Pop Vocal Performance - Female [1984]

NAACP Image Award-Best Actress in a TV Movie- Sister, Sister [1982]

NAACP Image Award-Best Actress in a TV Movie- For Us the Living [1983]

Alpha Music Program in Japan: #1 Female Vocalist from Sendai TV's "Saturday Magazine" [1983]

Academy Award (Oscar): Best Original Song: Flashdance...What a Feeling [1983]

American Music Awards: (nomination) Best R&B Female Artist [1983]

American Music Awards: Best Pop Single of the Year [1983]

Bravo Magazine: Otto Award, Most Popular Female Singer [1983]

Cashbox Magazine: Top Female Vocalist - Pop Singles [1983]

Cashbox Magazine: Black Contemporary - Pop Singles [1983]

Cashbox Magazine: Adult Contemporary Vocalist - Pop Singles [1983]

Cashbox Magazine: Top Pop Crossover Artist - Black Contemporary Singles [1983]

Cashbox Magazine: Pop Single of the Year [1983]

Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy (Fame) [1980]

Golden Globe: Best Song in a Motion Picture (Flashdance) [1983]

People's Choice Awards: Favorite Young Artist [1980]

People's Choice Awards: Favorite Movie Theme Song (Flashdance) [1983]

Academy Awards (not recipient: sang both songs) [1981] Nomination - Best Song in a Motion Picture,"Fame" & "Out Here On My Own"

Grammy Awards: Nomination - Best Pop Vocal Performance - Female [1981]

Grammy Awards: Nomination - Best New Artist [1981]

(award) Billboard Magazine: Top New Single Artist [1980]

(award) Cashbox Magazine: Most Promising Female Vocalist [1980]

(award) Cashbox Magazine: Top Female Vocalist [1980]

(award) Japan Radio Hit Research Committee: Most Popular Disc Award [1980]

Listed as one of twelve "Promising New Actors of 1976" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 28. [1976]

Won the Oscar for best song in 1984 for the song Flashdance...What a Feeling which she co-wrote with Giorgio Moroder.

She is the youngest African-American of Hispanic ancestry artist to receive an Academy Award at the age of 24 years old.

She is also the only female of color to receive an Academy Award in a non-acting category. To date, she holds both records.

Won a bitter lawsuit with her managers over money and career issues in the 1990s.

Chosen by Francesco Scavullo for his 1980s book on some of the most beautiful women in the entertainment business. Irene shared the pages with supermodel Gia, Diahann Carroll and Brooke Shields

In 1981 she was the first artist to perform two nominated songs at the Academy Awards. For the first time two songs from one film were nominated for Best Original Song.

Recorded her first record in Spanish for the Latin Market by age 8 and a Christmas LP in English soon after.

At age 10 she appeared in a major concert tribute to Duke Ellington with Stevie Wonder, Sammy Davis Jr. and Roberta Flack.

Appeared on the "Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour" as a child singing totally in Spanish.[17]

Featured on the Ed Sullivan Show in the late 1960s.

Appeared twice on the "Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson".

Was the original Daisy Allen on the now defunct daytime serial "Love of Life" in the 1970s and was replaced with Sharon Brown. She left the show to star in "The Electric Company".

Was one of the original stars of the Tony Award winning Broadway musical "Ain't Misbehavin'", featuring the music of the legendary jazz great Fats Waller with Nell Carter and Andre' DeShields.

Briefly replaced Stephanie Mills in "The Wiz" as Dorothy on Broadway while the star took ill in the summer of 1981. Coincidentally, the two shared the stage as children along with veteran character actor Gioncarlo Esposito in the Broadway Musical "Maggie Flynn".

Was set to star in her very own sitcom entitled "Irene" on NBC in 1981. Eventhough the pilot aired and received favorable reviews, the network did not pick it up for its fall season of new shows. It also starred veteran sidekicks Kaye Ballard and Teddy Wilson, as well as newcomers Julia Duffy and Keenan Ivory Wayans.

She was approached by the producers of the television series "Fame" to reprise her role as Coco Hernandez but turned down the role for unknown reasons and look-a-like newcomer Erica Gimpel got the part instead.

Her #1 hit Flashdance...What A Feeling was ranked #67 on VH1's 100 Greatest Dance Songs.

Contrary to being a "One Hit" or "Two Hit" wonder, Ms. Cara has topped the Billboard charts a total of 8 times.

She holds the #6 spot of a singer with the most Oscar- winning and/or nominated songs, under #1 Bing Crosby,#2 Judy Garland, #3 Gene Kelly, #4 Barbra Streisand, #5 Jennifer Warnes.

She is known as the "Queen of the Movie Themes",and has recorded a total of 17 movie theme songs since her first which was "Fame" (1980).

Performed Flashdance...What a Feeling on March 14, 2003 at the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Philadelphia 76ers 1983 Championship team.

Was one of the five finalists for the Little Miss America pageant at age 3.

Was originally born with red hair. Has rare eye color---black.

Was awarded the trophy for "Top Actress of 1976" after being selected in a poll compiled by readers of Right On! Magazine.

Wrote the lyrics to "Flashdance..What A Feeling" with co-writer Keith Forsey while riding in a car in New York heading to the studio to record it. The music for Flashdance was written by Giorgio Moroder and the after result was not only a #1 record, it also won them an Oscar, a Grammy and a Golden Globe.

Use to sing backups for quite a few stars, including Vicki Sue Robinson, Lou Reed, George Duke and Evelyn "Champagne" King.

On June 22, 2004 two of her movie theme songs "Flashdance...What A Feeling" (#55) from Flashdance and "Fame" (#51) from Fame were selected by the board of The American Film Institute in their list of "The 100 Years of The Greatest Songs". "Fame" the movie was placed in "The Top 100 Greatest Films" in 2006 (#92).

Has never stopped performing, although most of her appearances were regulated to Europe and Asia throughout the 1990s scoring several top ten dance hits on the foreign charts. I Can Fly [18][19] Rhythm of My Heart [20] You Need Me [21] All My Heart [22]

On March 27, 2004 she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Honor at the 6th Annual Prestige Awards. She was also inducted a week earlier into the Ciboney Cafe's Prestigious Hall of Fame.

Graduated from the Professional Children's School in Manhattan, a rival of the Laguardia High School of Music & Art. Laguarida High is the high school her third movie "Fame" is based.

Ranked #42 on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Teen Stars" in 2006.

Announced the making of her own all girl band called "Hot Caramel".[23]

She has her own production studio.
Artist information courtesy of their Wikipedia entry, which is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
External Links
Over 140,000 Items In Stock and Ready to Ship