She was a bright light who flashed into the lives of movie and music fans in the ‘80s and, for many, stayed there for another four decades. We are sad to report the passing of singer and actress Irene Cara at age 63, in her Miami home.
Cara’s death on November 25 was reported by her publicist Judith A Moore on both Twitter and Cara’s website: “It is with profound sadness that on behalf of her family, I announce the passing of Irene Cara. The Academy Award-winning actress, singer, songwriter and producer passed away in her Florida home. Her cause of death is currently unknown and will be released when information is available.”
The New York City-born Cara was the youngest of five children in a Puerto Rican family. She began studying acting as a young child and became a regular member of PBS’s “Electric Company” at an early age. She also began recording in both Spanish and English as a child singer.
As a teen, Cara was performing in plays around New York City, but it was her casting as Coco in the 1980 hit film “Fame” that gave her an international audience. Cara won a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in the film, and the title track became her first number-one hit and the first of her two signature songs.
Cara worked on stage and television over the next few years and released the moderately successful 1982 album “Anyone Can See,” but she had another career peak in 1983 when she sang the theme song from the smash movie “Flashdance.” It again took her to number-one.
Through the rest of the ’80s, Cara had several movie roles, including in “City Heat” and “Certain Fury,” and she hit the stage again with a lead role in “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Cara continued to work in many ways in the years since her commercial peak. She issued a few more albums and regular singles and was a steady worker both as a backing vocalist and in theater. She also formed the singing group Hot Caramel.
For many of us, Irene Cara will forever be a fresh-faced 20-year-old, lighting up the screen as an aspiring performer in “Fame.” But she accomplished so much more over her 63 years, and we will mourn the passing of this bright light.
Chris Rizik is the publisher of Soul Tracks and welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.