New York Daily News: By Jessica Schladebeck – Irene Cara, the actress, singer and Oscar-winning songwriter best known for crooning the title tracks to ‘80′s hit films “Fame” and “Flashdance,” has died in her Florida home. She was 63.
Cara’s publicist confirmed her death in a statement shared on the artist’s Twitter account early Saturday morning.
“It is with profound sadness that on behalf of her family I announce the passing of Irene Cara,” Judith Moose wrote. “The Academy Award-winning actress, singer, songwriter and producer passed away in her Florida home.
“She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films.”
The cause of death is unknown, but information will be released when information is available, her rep said.
Cara, a New York native and youngest daughter of a Puerto Rican father and Cuban-American mother, began her career as a child performer acting, singing and dancing on Spanish television and New York theater shows, including a role in the Broadway rock musical “The Me Nobody Knows” in 1970. She also appeared in “Roots: the Next Generations” 1979 before she was cast in the role of the lifetime at just 20 years old.
Cara became a star and launched her singing career in 1980 playing high schooler Coco Hernandez in Alan Parker’s “Fame,” a comedy-drama with a lively music score about the competitive, ultra-ambitious students at a Manhattan performing arts school which also starred Anne Meara and Debbie Allen as teachers..
Cara belted out the title track with a catchy chorus that included the lyrics “I’m gonna live forever/ Baby, remember my name.” The song became a huge hit and would be nominated for an Academy Award for best original song. She also sang “Out Here on My Own,” “Hot Lunch Jam” and “I Sing the Body Electric” in the movie.
The song “Fame” earned Cara two Grammy nominations for best new artist and best pop vocal performance in 1981.
Two years later, she won an Oscar for best original song for “Flashdance … What a Feeling” off the soundtrack of the 1983 blockbuster “Flashdance.” She penned the lyrics alongside Keith Forsey while Giorgio Moroder wrote the music. The song was also a No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
“There aren’t enough words to express my love and my gratitude,” Cara told the Oscar crowd. “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.”
“Flashdance” also nabbed her two wins at the Grammys in 1984 — best pop vocal performance, female, and best album of an original score written for a motion picture or a television special.
Her movie credits include “Sparkle” and the comedy “D.C. Cab,” in which she played herself and sang “The Dream (Hold on To Your Dream)” over the closing credits.” She co-starred with Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds in the 1984 action comedy “City Heat,” playing a club singer, and co-wrote the jazzy title track.
Cara went on to tour in the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” as Mary Magdalene in the mid-1990s, but her career stalled around the same time when she became embroiled in a legal battle with her record company over her earnings. She accused Al Coury Inc. and Network Records of withholding her royalties from the “Flashdance” soundtrack, as well as her solo albums, 1982′s “Anyone Can See” and l983′s “What a Feelin’.”
In 1993, the singer was awarded $1.5 million, but it was far from the victory she desired. Cara told People in 2001 she was “virtually blacklisted” from the music industry because of the legal drama.
“All of a sudden, I was hearing stories about how difficult I was to work with, ridiculous rumors about drugs and what a diva I was,” she said at the time.
Colleagues paying tribute to Cara on social media Saturday included a tweet from her “Fame” co-star Allen, who referenced the movie’s title song.