Irene Cara (born on March 18, 1962 in New York City, New York) 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.
Her father Gaspar (died in 1994) is an Afro-Puerto Rican. Her mother Louise is of French and Cuban descent. She has 2 sisters and 2 brothers.
Married Hollywood stuntman Conrad Palmisano in 1986. They divorced in 1991.
Her age has always been a confusing mystery by biographers who stated her birth year as either 1959 or 1964 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.
Ms. Cara disputes this and claims that she has never voted. Her correct date of birth is March 18th 1962.
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 Nobody 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.
Next came her role as Angela in romance thriller classic Aaron Loves Angela, followed by her portrayal of the title character 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.
In 1992, Irene toured in the revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, along with Ted Neely and Carl Anderson playing their respective roles from the film adaptation of the play.
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.