Born to blue-collar parents in New York City, King took her first piano lesson as a four year-old. By age eight, she performed on a televised children’s variety show, and as a high school student she began recording demos with her friends – one of whom happened to be Paul Simon. She attended college briefly but left to pursue a career in songwriting, which she very quickly brought to fruition. Her songs were made famous by several popular artists including The Monkees, Dusty Springfield, The Byrds, Aretha Franklin, and even The Beatles. Songs like “The Loco-Motion,” “I’m into Something Good,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” were all written or co-written by King. These successes also served as a springboard for her career as a solo artist.
In the late sixties, King moved from New York to California and began to collaborate with James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. She released her debut solo album, Writer, in 1970, and followed up with the wildly successful Tapestry in 1971. Garnishing more than 25 million in worldwide sales and four Grammy awards, Tapestry brought Carole King out from behind the curtain and into the limelight. Over the course of her prolific career, King has reached many milestones: she performed for more than 100,000 people at Central Park in New York City in 1973, she was inducted into both the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame, and she was the first woman ever to receive the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the U.S. Library of Congress. She has performed with nearly all of the greats from the past five decades of popular music, including B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige, and The Black Eyed Peas, to name but a few.
For more than thirty years, King has drawn from her success as a recording artist to support a variety of social and environmental causes. Her tireless work with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies organization led to the passage of legislation that now protects over 24 million acres of wilderness in the northwestern United States for future generations. More recently, she teamed up with her old friend James Taylor to perform in Boston in support of the victims of the marathon bombings. In 2014, Carole King was named as the MusiCares Person of the Year for her long-term dedication to philanthropy and conservation efforts.
Carole King will always be remembered as one of the greatest contributors to the American songbook and as a trailblazer who brought the potential for female entertainers to new and soaring heights. Her life’s work continues to be rooted in drawing her audience’s attention to the beauty in music, poetry, nature, and other people – it is a message that resonates just as much in today’s Internet Age as it did at the dawn of rock and roll.