'Fame' and 'Flashdance' singer-actress Irene Cara dies aged 63

Flashdance and Fame singer Irene Cara dies aged 63
Flashdance and Fame singer Irene Cara dies aged 63   -   Copyright  AP Photo
By Theo Farrant  & AP

Oscar, Golden Globe and two-time Grammy winning singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred in and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie Fame and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's Flashdance, has died aged 63. 

Her publicist, Judith A. Moose, announced the news on social media, writing that a cause of death was “currently unknown.” 

Cara died at her home in Florida and the exact day of her death has not been disclosed. 

“Irene’s family has requested privacy as they process their grief,” Moose wrote. “She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films.”

A generational icon

During her career, she was behind some of the most joyful, high-energy pop anthems of the early ’80s and considered by many to be an icon of her generation.

Cara had three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including “Breakdance,” “Out Here On My Own,” “Fame” and “Flashdance ... What A Feeling,” which spent six weeks at No. 1. 

Tributes poured in on Saturday on social media, including from Canadian singer Deborah Cox, who called Cara an inspiration, and American singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz, who wrote that she "defined an era". 

She first came to prominence portraying the character of Coco Hernandez in Alan Parker's 1980 musical film Fame, along with co-stars Debbie Allen, Paul McCrane and Anne Mear. 

“How bright our spirits go shooting out into space, depends on how much we contributed to the earthly brilliance of this world. And I mean to be a major contributor!” she says in the movie.

She also starred opposite Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds in City Heat (1984), and the following year with Tatum O’Neal in Certain Fury

Cara sang on the soaring title song with the chorus - “Remember my name / I’m gonna live forever / I’m gonna learn how to fly / I feel it coming together / People will see me and cry” - which would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for best original song. 

She also sang on “Out Here on My Own,” "Hot Lunch Jam" and “I Sing the Body Electric.”

Three years later, she and the songwriting team of Flashdance - music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Keith Forsey and Cara - was accepting the Oscar for best original song for “Flashdance... What a Feeling.”

The movie, which starred Jennifer Beals as a steel-town girl who dances in a bar at night and hopes to attend a prestigious dance conservatory, became the third-highest-grossing film of 1983.

“There aren’t enough words to express my love and my gratitude,” Cara told the Oscar crowd in her thanks. 

“And last but not least, a very special gentlemen who I guess started it all for me many years ago. To Alan Parker, wherever you may be tonight, I thank him.”

Video editor • Theo Farrant