One of the most iconic singers and recognizable voices of the late 20th century, Irene Cara, is dead at 63.
Born Irene Cara Escalera, on March 18, 1959, in The Bronx to a Puerto Rican father and a Cuban-American mother, she was taking piano lessons by age five after learning to play the instrument by ear.
Before she was even a teenager, Cara was already performing on New York City’s local Spanish-language television. By age 12 she had already appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show.
It wasn’t until 1980, at the age of 21, that Cara was catapulted into stardom starring as Coco Hernandez in the hit movie Fame, about a group of city kids auditioning to attend New York City’s High School for Performing Arts, of which she also sang the hit, titular song, “Fame.”
But that wasn’t the only song she sang that was nominated for an Oscar that year. Irene Cara was one of the rare artists who had not one but two songs from the same movie that were nominated in the same category from the same film, the second being the chart-topping “Out Here on My Own.”
Then, in 1983, she sang the titular song for another movie—Flashdance—for which she won the Oscar that year, and in 1984, she garnered both a Grammy and a Golden Globe for the same song.
Despite this being the peak of her career, Cara remained an iconic musical legend from the 80s until the end. Her voice and songs were timeless, constantly playing on the radio waves.
At the time of this writing, her cause of death remains unknown, and a message on her website today stated that the family requests privacy during this difficult time.
Rest in Peace to one of The Bronx’s very own legends, Irene Cara.