The Story Of Kim Carnes And The Breaking Point Of Her Career

Kim Carnes got her start in the industry as a songwriter, and since she was from Los Angeles, the opportunities were more readily available. She wrote songs for other artists while also performing in local clubs. During that time frame, she also worked as a session background singer with The Water Sisters.

She had already had one foot through the door into the music industry, but when she signed her first publishing deal with Jimmy Bowen, that was the moment she was entirely inside the doors as a recording artist. The 70s was when she got her start, and she continued to grind countless hours to build a fan base and a wider audience, as it was a slow burn to success. She didn’t have her breakthrough into the music industry with a mega-hit right off the bat.

Everything began with her debut album ‘Rest on Me’ in 1971. She followed up her debut with a self-titled second album with mostly self-penned songs. The song list included her first charting single ‘You’re a Part of Me,’ which was her first track to reach No. 35 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in 1975. She didn’t stop there; once she tasted what her life could look like, she released her next album ‘Sailin’, which featured ‘Love Comes from Unexpected Places.’ This was Carnes’ song that won the American Song Festival.

And finally, the 80s rolled around, which was the pinocle year that changed Kim’s life in the industry forever. In 1980, Carnes was commissioned by Kenny Rogers to co-write the songs for his concept album ‘Gideon,’ and their duet ‘Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer’ reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and even earned the duo a Grammy Award nomination.

A year later, in 1981, Carnes released her next album ‘Mistaken Identity,’ which housed her version of Jackie DeShannon and Donna Weiss’ 1970s composition ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ and became a worldwide hit. The track was such a hit that it became the best-selling single of the year in the United States. It spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and went Gold, not to mention the singer and songwriter receiving the Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

It was safe to say that ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ made her an overnight megastar after being in the industry for a decade and trying to get acknowledged for her talent; however, no one would have expected to become not only a national but an international phenomenon. ‘Mistaken Identity’ also included another chart single, ‘Draw Of The Cards,’ which reached No. 28.

‘Mistaken Identity,’ more specifically ‘Bette Davis Eyes,’ put her in everyone’s radars in the industry, and she did release several excellent albums throughout the years, including the follow-up ‘Voyeur.’ Although the rest of her career had many great tracks from fantastic albums, nothing quite reached the level of the success Kim experienced with her 1981 hit, as it was a once in a lifetime moment.