Since writing her first number one hit “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” at the tender age of 17, Carole King has arguably become the most celebrated and iconic singer/songwriter of all time.
King wrote “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for The Shirelles with then-husband Gerry Goffin. The dozens of chart hits Goffin & King wrote during this period have become part of music legend, including “Take Good Care of My Baby” (Bobby Vee, 1961), “The Loco-Motion” (Little Eva, 1962), “Up On The Roof” (The Drifters, 1962), “Chains” (The Cookies, 1962; The Beatles, 1963), “One Fine Day” (The Chiffons, 1963), “Hey Girl” (Freddie Scott, 1963), “I’m Into Something Good” (Herman’s Hermits, 1964), “Just Once In My Life” (with Phil Spector for The Righteous Brothers, 1965), and “Don’t Bring Me Down” (The Animals, 1966).
In 1960, King made her solo debut with a song called “Baby Sittin’” and, two years later, her demo of “It Might As Well Rain Until September” made the Top 25 in the United States, climbing all the way to number three on the British chart. In 1967, Goffin and King’s song “Natural Woman” was immortalized by Aretha Franklin. To date, more than 400 of her compositions have been recorded by more than 1,000 artists, resulting in 100 hit singles.
King’s 1971 solo album, Tapestry, took her to the pinnacle. While King was recording Tapestry, James Taylor recorded King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” taking the song all the way to number one. In a first for a female writer/artist, Tapestry spawned four Grammy Awards®—Record, Song, and Album of The Year as well as Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female honors for King. With more than 25 million units sold worldwide, Tapestry remained the best-selling album by a female artist for a quarter century, and King went on to amass three other platinum and eight gold albums. Tapestry was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame® in 1998.
In 1987, King was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and, a year later, Goffin and King were awarded the National Academy of Songwriters’ Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1990, the duo was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2002 King was honored with the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Two years later, Goffin and King received the Trustees Award from The Recording Academy®.
The past five years have been among the busiest and most successful of King’s career. She’s been the recipient of a number of esteemed awards and honors, and remained active in the public’s eye with musical and literary work. King’s many late-career achievements include a 50th anniversary Troubadour reunion run with James Taylor that became the RIAA gold-certified Live At The Troubadour, inspiring the pair’s 60-concert Troubadour Reunion world tour in 2010. The Troubadour shows also inspired the Morgan Neville-directed feature-length documentary Troubadours: Carole King/James Taylor & The Rise Of The Singer-Songwriter, and premiered on American Masters in 2011 shortly after being released on DVD.
In 2012, King received the BMI Icon Award and an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music. The following year brought her The Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, and she became the first woman to be awarded The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, presented by President Barack Obama at an all-star White House gala.
King published her memoir, A Natural Woman, in 2012, which debuted on The New York Times best-seller list at number six and prompted Vanity Fair to say, “America is having a Carole King moment.”
On January 12, 2014, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical opened on Broadway. Audiences were amazed by King’s deep musical catalog, and captivated by her life story. The show became the hit of the season and won a Grammy® for Best Musical Theater Album and two Tony® awards. In 2015, it opened in London’s West End, garnering two Olivier Awards. More productions are planned around the world.
In January 2014, King was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year and a special gala was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in which several of today’s most popular artists, including Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, and Kacey Musgraves, performed many of King’s classics. To end the night, King herself came out to perform “Home Again,” “Jazzman,” and “Sweet Seasons”/”Hey Girl” with James Taylor; after all these years, King proved that she could still captivate an entire audience.
King is the subject of the new documentary American Masters – Carole King: Natural Woman that delves into the hit singer-songwriter’s life and career from 1960s New York to the music mecca of ’70s Los Angeles to the present. King joins collaborators and family in new interviews, while rare home movies, performances and photos complete the tapestry. The film premieres nationwide Friday, February 19, 2016, at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).
In addition to her continuously evolving musical career, King, who has lived on an Idaho ranch since the early 1980s, is actively involved with environmental organizations in support of wilderness preservation.