Irene Cara, Singer of ‘Flashdance’ and ‘Fame,’ Dies at 63

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Irene Cara via her Facebook page

Irene Cara, the singer who also co-wrote the Academy Award winning song “Flashdance… What a Feeling” for the 1983 film Flashdance, died yesterday (Nov. 25, 2022). Her death at 63 of unknown causes at her Florida home was announced by her publicist Judith A. Moose, on Cara’s Twitter page. Cara came to prominence in 1980 when she starred in the film, Fame, in which she also sang the title song.

“This is the absolute worst part of being a publicist,” her representative wrote in the announcement.

Fame was a teen musical drama set in New York City about the lives of students at the High School of Performing Arts. The low budget film became a significant hit, as did the title song which reached #4 on the Hot 100 and topped many worldwide charts. The song was written by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford.

Its lyrics include the oft-repeated lines “I’m gonna make it to heaven, light up the sky like a flame. I’m gonna live forever.”

Watch Cara perform the song on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert

Cara also recorded the ballad, “Out Here On My Own,” written by the sibling duo of Lesley Gore and Michael Gore for the movie. The single reached #19 and Cara performed it at the 1981 Academy Awards, where it was nominated for Best Original Song.

Three years later, Cara co-wrote the lyrics to “Flashdance… What a Feeling” with Keith Forsey, with music by Giorgio Moroder. The single reached #1 in the U.S. and elsewhere and helped propel the Flashdance film to become a worldwide box-office smash. The movie starred Jennifer Beals as an 18 year-old welder at a steel mill in Pittsburgh, Pa., who at night aspires to be a professional dancer. The film was made for a reported $7 million and earned $201.5 million.

Watch Beals’ famous audition scene (later revealed to be performed by a body double)

The song also earned Cara the 1984 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

That same year, she co-starred in the feature film, City Heat, with Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds. Her final hit single was 1984’s “Breakdance,” which she co-wrote with Moroder and others.

The complete statement of her passing reads: “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.”

When she earned the Academy Award for Best Original Song, her bio indicates that she was the first African American female to win the coveted award since Hattie McDaniel (Gone With The Wind – 1939), the first Hispanic female since Rita Moreno (West Side Story – 1961) and the first bi-racial female ever to win in any category predating Halle Berry by nearly twenty years.

Cara was born on March 18, 1959, in New York. (The bio on her website shows 1962 as the year of her birth.) The youngest daughter of a Latin musician, she began her career singing and dancing on Spanish television performing with her fathers’ mambo band.

Related: Musicians that we’ve lost in 2022

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  1. Jarmo Keranen
    #1 Jarmo Keranen 26 November, 2022, 08:06

    Her Flashdance video was the first video which i recorded in August 1983, when i bought my first video recorder. It was Sony Betamax. Years later i bought her What A Feelin’ vinyl lp from second hand shop. After all these years it’s still one of my favorite tracks from the 80’s. She was almost almost same age as i am. About four months older!

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  2. Da Mick
    #2 Da Mick 27 November, 2022, 00:51

    “When she earned the Academy Award for Best Original Song, her bio indicates that she was the first African American female to win the coveted award since Hattie McDaniel (Gone With The Wind – 1939), the first Hispanic female since Rita Moreno (West Side Story – 1961) and the first bi-racial female ever to win in any category predating Halle Berry by nearly twenty years.” It’s singling out these types of racial and gender differences as a point of pride, that, in fact, continues to keep people of these categories outside the mainstream as just “people.” We’ll never lose the idea of seeing a person as this or that if special mention is made of them as if they are handicapped. Get rid of “pride” weeks of all sorts along with special events based on race, color and creed and start integrating everyone as part of the human race.

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  3. Lorelei
    #3 Lorelei 27 November, 2022, 03:16

    My heart is broken, it seems like every day somebody from my youth dies, it such a sad end to an era. I had my legwarmers go down to the balls of my feet so I could dance around my apartment and spin on the hard wood floors to her music. Her music and memories will go on forever though…

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