Carole King wrote her first number 1 hit (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” recorded by The Shirelles) while she was still in high school, at the age of 17.
Before going on to become famous for performing her own songs, this talented singer-songwriter, with her then-husband Gerry Goffin, wrote iconic songs for other performers of the 1960s: “Take Good Care Of My Baby” (Bobby Vee), “The Loco-Motion” (Little Eva – who was the Goffin-Kings’ babysitter, btw), “Up On The Roof” (The Drifters), “One Fine Day” (The Chiffons), “I’m Into Something Good” (Herman’s Hermits), “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (Aretha Franklin) and “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (The Monkees), to name just a few.
Influenced by a wide range of American music, from gospel to show tunes, King writes earnest, “unfussy” and “deceptively simple” songs that pack an emotional punch. Many of her solo songs have themes like human kindness and the power of working together in an imperfect world that still resonate today.
King’s 1971 solo album Tapestry topped the charts for 15 weeks, launching a successful solo career that spanned 25 albums.
Along the way, King has won practically every honor it’s possible to garner in the music industry, including multiple Grammys, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, Kennedy Center Honors, and being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Despite her solo success, she’s perhaps most famous for her collaborations with superstars like James Taylor (“You’ve Got a Friend“), Elvis Costello (“Burnt Sugar is So Bitter“), Semisonic (“One True Love“) and Mariah Carey (“If It’s Over“) and her songs covered by others, from The Beatles (“Chains“) and Isaac Hayes (“Hey Girl“) to a-ha (“Crying in the Rain“) and Mandy Moore (“I Feel the Earth Move“). “To date, more than 400 of her compositions have been recorded by more than 1,000 artists, resulting in 100 hit singles.” Looking at the wide range of artists who’ve recorded her work should give you some ideas about how much room there is to put your own stamp on this music.
As we study King’s career, we’ll learn about songwriting, confidence, collaboration and having an authentic voice.