Born March 18th, 1962 Irene's climb to the top started when she was just five years old. Her parents discovered her natural talent for playing the piano by ear and encouraged the near-tot
to pursue serious studies in, not only music, but dancing and acting as well. The gamble paid off in three short years when the eight year old native New Yorker landed a role on Broadway in
the Shirley Jones hit "Maggie Flynn." That same year she recorded her first record in Spanish for the Latin Market and a Christmas album in English.
By ten she was on the same bill as Stevie Wonder, Sammy Davis Jr. and Roberta Flack in a tribute concert to Duke Ellington. This led to a part in the hit children's show "Electric
Company" (1971-1972) where she was a member of the group "Short Circus."
By 16 she landed her first of many movie roles as the lead in the 1975 hit "Aaron Loves Angela." But it was the following years "Sparkle" that captivated audiences and truly introduced
the budding star to the world. The next three years were spent struggling to find her niche in the entertainment industry. Shots on the TV shows "What's Happening" and "Kojack" plus the
forgettable film "Apple Pie" did nothing to advance her career. She rebounded in 1979 when she landed a role in the mini-series "Roots: The Next Generation" and followed that with the
made-for-TV movie "Guyana Tragedy: The Story Of Jim Jones." However, it was the box office smash "Fame" in 1980, that catapulted Irene to international stardom. As "Coco Hernandez"
she sang both the title song "Fame" and the film’s second hit single "Out Here On My Own," resulting in a multi-platinum soundtrack that shot to the top of the charts. The 12" single of the
title track became her first club hit along with Linda Clifford's "Red Light" also from the film. She went on to make Academy Award history that year when, for the first time, two songs from
one film were nominated in the same category. Additionally, Irene is the only performer ever to sing two Academy Award nominated songs in one evening. "Fame" would go on to win the
coveted award that year. "Fame’s" success brought her 1980 Grammy nominations for "Best New Female Artist" and "Best New Pop Artist," as well as a Golden Globe nomination for "Best
Motion Picture Actress in a Musical." Billboard Magazine named Irene "Top New Single Artist," while Cashbox awarded her both "Most Promising Female Vocalist" and "Top Female Vocalist."
In 1982 she received the Image Award for Best Actress for the NBC movie-of-the-week "Sisters" starring alongside Rosalind Cash and Diahann Carroll. She followed that with the critically
acclaimed role as "Myrlie Evers" in the PBS movie about civil rights leader Medger Evers, "For Us The Living."
In 1983 she was asked to sing the title song for the Jennifer Beals movie "Flashdance." Thanks to a 12" single and heavy club play "Flashdance.....What A Feeling" shot to the top of the charts. She was presented with
five major awards for her effort, including "Top Female Vocalist-Pop Singles," "Black Contemporary Female Vocalist-Pop Singles," "Top Pop Crossover Artist-Black Contemporary Singles," and "Pop Single of the Year." As a
songwriter Irene’s talent earned her an Academy Award, two Grammy’s, a Golden Globe and a People’s Choice Award for "Flashdance…What A Feeling."
Her own album, "What A Feeling" (released later that year), produced three more 12" single club hits. "Why Me," "The Dream" and "Breakdance" made her the most popular club artist of the year. The album produced
by Giorgio Moroder remains a disco classic and has been re-released on compact disc with bonus tracks of the 12" mixes.
When your star burns that brightly it's hard to maintain that momentum. Taking a two-year break from the limelight she return to acting in 1985's "City Heat" with Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds, her last hit of note.
Her dual recording and acting careers fell off through a series of mis-steps including a failed album and several bad movie choices in the late 1980's.
She took advantage of touring throughout Asia and Europe and made major appearances in Atlantic City and on all the top television shows in Europe, Latin America and Japan throughout most of the 1990's. Irene
received two prestigious honors for her career in March 2004, with her induction into the Ciboney Cafe's Hall of Fame and a Lifetime Achievement Award presented at the sixth annual Prestige Awards. In June 2005, Irene
won the third round of the NBC television series "Hit Me Baby One More Time," performing "Flashdance (What a Feeling)" and covered Anastasia's song "I'm Outta Love" with her current all-female band, Hot Caramel. At
the 2006 AFL Grand Final in Melbourne, Cara performed "Flashdance (What a Feeling)" as an opener to the pre-match entertainment. Irene lives in Florida and works with her band Hot Caramel. She appeared in season 2
of CMT's reality show "Gone Country," but left the show realizing she "was not cut out for reality television." We honor Miss Cara here for being the "disco star of the year in 1983" and wish her the best in the future.