Women’s History Month 2012: Carole King

16 Mar

Today we honor and celebrate one of the most prolific and successful songwriters in the rock era, she is also an accomplished singer and a significant chart success on both fronts. Born Carol Klein in 1942, she co-wrote her first #1 hit, Will You Love Me Tomorrow? with soon-to-be-husband Gerry Goffin at the age of 18. That song has been covered by dozens of artists since the Shirelles took it to the top (the first “girl group” #1) and has had six Hot 100 versions. King is the most successful female songwriter on the Hot 100; with nearly 120 hits she is the 10th most successful songwriter overall. Her compositions have been successful on the R&B and Adult Contemporary charts as well. King has notched an impressive 16 #1s on the three charts as a writer; she is the only songwriter to have two hits top the Hot 100 by two different artists (The Loco-Motion by Little Eva (her former babysitter!) and Grand Funk and Go Away Little Girl by Steve Lawrence and Donny Osmond). Including all three charts, she has logged 60 Top 10 hits and 161 Top 40s.

After divorcing Goffin, King launched a career as a solo writer and singer. Her second album, Tapestry, is one of the most successful albums of all time, and one of my personal all time favorite albums! It was #1 for 15 straight weeks, a record for a female solo artist; until just this year, when Adele’s 21 popped in and out of the top for a total of 22 weeks, it was the overall champ in that category. Tapestry also stayed on the charts for 302 weeks, also a record for a solo female act, and spent 296 further weeks on the Classic Albums chart. It set the standard for the singer-songwriter genre of the 1970s and remains a powerful example of pop craftsmanship. It also included her only #1 as a singer, It’s Too Late.   Of course, another of my favorite Carole King songs is Natural Woman, made famous by legendary Aretha Franklin. In the decade following Tapestry, she logged another dozen hits as a singer, three of which went Top 10. She also charted another eighteen albums up to 2010, two more #1s and four more Top 10; King is one of the 100 most successful artists on the Billboard Album chart and one of the top 10 female solo artists.  Despite her success as a recording artist, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has set her aside like so many women who rock, inducting her only as half an award with ex-husband Gerry Goffin.

Carole King has used her fame and wealth to make the world a better place for everyone as well. She is very active in a number of environmental causes and has testified before Congress on these issues. Her personal website includes an “ideas” page that has links to numerous environmental and humanitarian causes. Her goal as she simply and elegantly states, is to achieve a state of humanity which is exemplified by human beings treating all beings compassionately–nice plug for social justice!

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