March 18, 1959
New York City, New York, United States
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One of the most recognizable voices of the late 70s and early 80s, Irene Cara contributed two iconic songs to American film history. Raised in the Bronx to Puerto Rican and Cuban parents, Cara had performing in her blood from a very young age, making it to the Little Miss America semi-finals at the age of three. She began playing piano as a child and became a regular on the PBS educational series "The Electric Company." In 1980, she auditioned to be a backup dancer in the film "Fame," but the producers were so taken with her talent that they wrote the role of Coco Hernandez for her and had her sing the title theme, which became a smash hit. Cara turned down the opportunity to star in the "Fame" spin-off TV series, and NBC offered her her own show, "Irene," which was not picked up for a full season. Undeterred, Cara continued to pursue both acting and music. In 1983, her title theme for the film "Flashdance" became a worldwide hit, winning Cara an Academy Award, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe all in one year. She continued to act in movies and TV shows throughout the 90s, and now lives in Florida, recording music and playing shows with her band Hot Caramel.