Irene Cara described her as “a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films.” “She was a beautifully gifted soul,”
Cara achieved three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 throughout her career. These hits include “Breakdance,” “Out Here On My Own,” and “Fame,” as well as “Flashdance… What A Feeling,” which dominated the chart for a total of six weeks. She was the creative force behind several of the upbeat, high-energy pop anthems that emerged in the early 1980s.
She first came to public attention alongside the other young actors who played high school students involved in the performing arts in Alan Parker’s film Fame. Her co-stars in the film included Debbie Allen, Paul McCrane, and Anne Mear. Coco Hernandez, the character that Cara played, is a hard-working dancer who puts up with all kinds of hardships, including a spooky photo shoot in her underwear.
“The degree to which each of us contributed to the overall splendor of this world will determine how brilliantly our souls shine when they are launched into space. And I intend to be a significant contributor!” she says at one point in the film.
Cara sang on the soaring title song, which would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for best original song. The chorus of the song included the lyrics “Remember my name/I’m going to live forever/I’m going to learn how to fly/I feel it coming together/People will see me and cry.” In addition, she provided vocals for the songs “Out Here on My Own,” “Hot Lunch Jam,” and “I Sing the Body Electric.”
After another three years, she and the songwriting team behind Flashdance’s “Flashdance… What a Feeling” were on hand to accept the Academy Award for best original song for their work. The song’s music was composed by Giorgio Moroder, and its lyrics were written by Keith Forsey and Cara.
In the film, Jennifer Beals played the role of a young woman from a steel town who spends her nights dancing in a bar and has her sights set on attending a prestigious dance conservatory. It featured the hit song “Maniac,” in which Beals’ character could be seen jumping, spinning, and stomping her feet, as well as the theme song, which had a more subdued tempo.
Cara expressed her appreciation to the audience at the Oscars by saying that there are not sufficient words to express her love and gratitude. “And finally, but certainly not least, a very special gentleman who I believe, many years ago, was the one who began it all for me. I want to extend my gratitude to Alan Parker, whoever you are and wherever you are tonight.
Cara, who was born in New York, started her career on Broadway with bit parts in shows that didn’t last long. However, a musical called The Me Nobody Knows ran for over 300 performances during her time there. During the middle of the 1990s, she performed as Mary Magdalene in touring productions of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, and in 2012–2014, she contributed songs to touring productions of the musical Flashdance.
In addition to this, she is the mastermind behind the all-female band Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel, which has released a double CD featuring the single “How Can I Make You Luv Me.” Sparkle and D.C. Cab are just two of the movies she’s been in.