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Kim Carnes (born 20 July 1945 Hollywood, California) is a US singer-songwriter. She is a two-time Grammy Award winner noted for her distinctive raspy vocal style. Some people have called her "The Female Rod Stewart" due to her raspy voice.

Early career

After writing songs for many years, Kim Carnes signed her first publishing deal in 1969 with famed producer Jimmy Bowen. During this period, she shared demo-recording time with Bowen's other writers, including Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and J.D. Souther. Carnes also sang "Nobody Knows", written by Mike Settle, which was featured in the end credits of the 1971 film, Vanishing Point. The film also featured Carnes's first selection as a songwriter, "Sing Out for Jesus", which was recorded by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton.

Her first album, Rest on Me, produced by Jimmy Bowen, was released in 1972. Her self-titled album in 1975 contained her first charted hit, "You're a Part Of Me" (No. 32 AC). This album was followed in 1976 by Sailin', produced by the legendary Jerry Wexler. One selection, "Love Comes from Unexpected Places", won Best Composition at the 1977 American Song Festival and gained additional notice after it was recorded by Barbra Streisand on her 1977 album Streisand Superman. Streisand also recorded Carnes's "Stay Away" on her 1978 album Songbird. In spite of Streisand's endorsement of her material, Carnes's own Top 40 breakthrough did not occur till 1978, when Gene Cotton recruited her to record a duet version of "You're a Part of Me", which reached No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1979, she recorded a single using the pseudonym Connie con Carne titled "She Dances With Meat."

In 1980 her duet with Kenny Rogers "Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer" became a major hit on the Pop (No. 4), Country (No. 3) and AC (No. 2) charts. The song was culled from Rogers's concept album, Gideon, which was written entirely by Carnes and her husband Dave Ellingson. Later that year, her cover version of the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles song "More Love" became her first solo Top 10 hit (No. 10 Pop, No. 6 AC).

"Bette Davis Eyes"

In 1981, Carnes recorded the Jackie DeShannon and Donna Weiss song "Bette Davis Eyes". As the first single released from the album Mistaken Identity, it spent nine weeks at number one on the US singles charts and became a worldwide hit. The song's success propelled the album to No. 1 for four weeks. The single became the biggest hit of the entire year of 1981, and is second only to Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" as the biggest hit of the 1980s in the USA, according to Billboard. The song earned both the Record of the Year and Song of the Year awards at the 1982 Grammys. Carnes was nominated for Best Pop Female and Mistaken Identity also earned a nomination for Album of the Year. Two follow-up singles from Mistaken Identity, "Draw of the Cards" and the title track, were both released during 1981.

"Bette Davis Eyes" was written by Jackie DeShannon and Donna Weiss in 1974. Carnes and her band rehearsed the song in the studio for three days to take the melody and overall sound of the record to a darker, more haunting place. Keyboard player Bill Cuomo came up with the signature instrumental lick and together with the band and producer Val Garay created a completely new arrangement of the song, which was recorded live the next day with no overdubs.

Bette Davis admitted to being a fan of the song and approached Carnes and the songwriters to thank them. Davis wrote to Carnes after the song was released saying she loved the song. "It was a thrill to become a part of the rock generation", she said in her memoir 'This 'N That.' Davis' grandson, Ashley, told the screen legend she had "finally made it". Carnes and Davis struck up a special friendship, with the singer visiting her at her home several times until her 1989 death. In what she considers a career highlight, Carnes performed the song live for Davis at a tribute to the legendary actress held just before her death. Most recently, the song has been used in a 2008 Clairol Nice 'n Easy TV commercial in the United Kingdom. The ad featuring the song has expanded into South Africa and other territories around the world. In 2008, the song was featured in the opening scene of the documentary film, Valentino: The Last Emperor.

Most recently "Bette Davis Eyes" was used in Episode 8, Season 1 of Fox's new comedy, Raising Hope. The song can be heard as Virginia Chance races behind the gas station to relieve herself, and is caught publicly urinating.

Later career

Carnes' later Hot 100 hits included the top 15 charter "Crazy in the Night" (from Barking at Airplanes) and "What About Me?" with Kenny Rogers and James Ingram. Carnes reached the AC Top 10 four times after "Bette Davis Eyes" with "I Pretend" (No. 9), "What About Me?" (No. 1), "Make No Mistake, He's Mine" with Barbra Streisand (No. 8) (co-produced by Carnes with Bill Cuomo) and "Crazy in Love" (No. 10). On January 19, 1985, Carnes had the distinction of being on the Billboard Hot 100 with three singles simultaneously, "What About Me", "Make No Mistake, He's Mine" and "Invitation to Dance", from the soundtrack to the film, That's Dancing! This meant she was on the chart as a solo artist in addition to being part of a duo and a trio.

Carnes was nominated for two more Grammys - Best Pop Female for Voyeur, and Best Rock Female for "Invisible Hands". In 1983, Kim's song, "I'll Be Here Where the Heart Is", was included on the Flashdance soundtrack which received a Grammy for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture. Carnes was one of the singers invited to perform on USA for Africa's 1985 famine relief fundraising single "We Are the World" and can be seen in the music video and heard singing the last line of the song's bridge with Huey Lewis and Cyndi Lauper. In 1987 she sang the song "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" in a duet with Jeffrey Osborne for the soundtrack to the movie Spaceballs. She also sang a duet of the Johnny Cash classic, "Ring of Fire", with Jeff Bridges, for the film The Contender.

Several of Carnes songs, including "Voyeur", "I'll Be Here Where the Heart Is" and "Gypsy Honeymoon" were hits for her in countries throughout Europe and South America. As a songwriter, she has had two No. 1 country singles. Her duet with Barbra Streisand was re-recorded as "Make No Mistake, She's Mine" by Ronnie Milsap and Kenny Rogers which was a No. 1 Country and No. 42 AC hit in 1987. She also wrote "The Heart Won't Lie", a No. 1 duet for Reba McEntire and Vince Gill in 1993. Co-writing with others, Carnes has had songs covered by such country stars as Deana Carter, Kevin Sharp, Matraca Berg, Carolyn Dawn Johnson. Sawyer Brown, Suzy Bogguss, Collin Raye, Pam Tillis, Tim McGraw and Tanya Tucker.

In 2004, Carnes released the album Chasin' Wild Trains. An extensive European tour followed with the album achieving success in the Americana format. She continues to tour throughout the U.S., Europe and South America, and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee with husband Dave Ellingson. She has two sons, Collin and Ry. Her son Ry is named after musician Ry Cooder, who guests on the song "Rough Edges" from her Barking at Airplanes album. Son Collin is also featured on that album at the beginning of the song "Crazy in the Night".

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