'Fame' and 'Flashdance' singer Irene Cara has died at 63 The Oscar-winning singer-actress died at her home in Florida, according to her publicist. Cara was behind some of the most era-defining pop anthems of the early '80s.

'Fame' and 'Flashdance' singer Irene Cara has died at 63

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DAVID FOLKENFLIK, HOST:

Irene Cara, who starred in and sang the hit title song from the 1980 movie "Fame," has died at her home in Florida. She was 63. NPR's Chloe Veltman says the Oscar and Grammy Award-winning singer and actress influenced a future generation of artists.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FAME")

IRENE CARA: (Singing) Don't you know who I am? Remember my name. I'm gonna live forever...

CHLOE VELTMAN, BYLINE: Born into a working-class Puerto Rican and Cuban American family in the Bronx, N.Y., Irene Cara launched her performing arts career very young. Here she is at age 8, singing in Spanish on "The Original Amateur Hour."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ORIGINAL AMATEUR HOUR")

CARA: (Singing in Spanish).

VELTMAN: Cara became a household name for her starring role in "Fame."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FAME")

CARA: (Singing) Baby, hold me tight 'cause you can make it right, you can shoot me straight to the top. Give me love and take all I got to give...

VELTMAN: The movie tells the story of a group of talented young hopefuls in New York trying to launch their careers in the cutthroat performing arts world. Broadway conductor and radio host Seth Rudetsky says watching Cara in "Fame" as a kid helped shape his career ambitions.

SETH RUDETSKY: Irene Cara, specifically herself, represented making it in the arts and gave us so much excitement and hope and enthusiasm to pursue the arts.

VELTMAN: It was Cara's high-octane performance of the title song from the 1983 movie "Flashdance" that further cemented her reputation.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, ""FLASHDANCE... WHAT A FEELING"")

CARA: (Singing) What a feelin'. Being's believin'.

VELTMAN: She co-wrote that song, which won her an Oscar and a Grammy. In an interview with Dick Clark on "American Bandstand," Cara expressed excitement about her future prospects.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "AMERICAN BANDSTAND")

DICK CLARK: What will the next five years bring for you? What do you - professionally?

CARA: Hopefully a lot more records, lot more movies.

VELTMAN: But her career started to flounder in the 1990s. Rudetsky says Cara should have been given more opportunities.

RUDETSKY: Her voice was so unique. She was an incredible actress. And, you know, it's really difficult when you're not white to get some great roles.

VELTMAN: Cara's publicist said plans are still in the works for the artist's funeral and memorial services. Chloe Veltman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF IRENE CARA SONG, "FLASHDANCE... WHAT A FEELING")

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