Carly SimonUnfamiliar Kin

Carly Simon

Carly Simon is featured in Season 4, Episode 2: Unfamiliar Kin (check local listings).

Carly Simon, has an unparalleled career that spans four decades of openhearted storytelling in both song and print.  In the early 1970’s, Simon joined the singer-songwriters who changed the public’s conception of pop music to an honest, sensitive and intelligent craftwork. Her signature style can be found in her chart-topping singles, award-winning film scores, collections of original music, a family opera, children’s books and a #1 New York Times bestselling Memoir.  

Born in New York City, Simon’s family was never short on talent. Her father, Richard L. Simon, was the co-founder of Simon & Shuster, and a pianist. Her mother was a singer, and sisters Lucy and Joanna, along with Carly, pursued it professionally. Carly and Lucy performed as The Simon Sisters in 1964, singing on college campuses and television shows, while recording three albums together.

Simon first performed as a solo act in 1971, supporting her self-titled release, which featured the breakthrough hit, “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be.” By the time she released her second album, Anticipation, she was celebrating another Top 10 hit with its title track, headlining performances, and accepting the Best New Artist Grammy.

In 1972, Simon experienced her biggest success with No Secrets, which included “You’re So Vain.” The album sold millions of copies worldwide, occupied the #1 spot on the charts for six consecutive weeks and earned Grammy nominations in six categories. The single still captivates fans, not only with its distinctive hook and self-empowering theme, but also with the mystery of its inspiration – an ongoing secret that Simon keeps close.

After her marriage to James Taylor, Simon released Hotcakes, featuring her duet with Taylor, “Mockingbird.” She then contributed to the James Bond film, The SpyWho Loved Me, where she sang “Nobody Does It Better.” For the duration of the 70’s, Simon focused on her two children – Sally and Ben – while continuing her success in music, with hit singles, “Devoted To You” and “You Belong To Me.”

In 1980, Simon released Come Upstairs, and though it produced the hit single, “Jesse,” her personal life was turbulent. When she returned to recording, Simon branched out as an interpretive singer, recording classics “Body and Soul,” “I’ve Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)” and “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” to complete her album, Torch.

Film directors Mike Nichols and Nora Ephron commissioned Simon to score Heartburn, Postcards from the Edge, This Is My Life and Working Girl. The latter film earned an Academy Award, Golden Globe and Grammy for Simon’s song “Let The River Run,” making her the first and only female artist to win all three awards as a performer and composer. In 1991, she composed the opera Romulus Hunt with co-librettist Jacob Brackman, which was produced by the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the Kennedy Center. Her new endeavors carried on; Simon also became a well-established children’s book author, publishing five books in ten years.

Never one to rest for very long, Simon continues to create brilliant original material in all of her endeavors.  On November 20, 2015, Carly’s long awaited memoir “Boys in the Trees” was released on Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan Publishing.  The memoir is accompanied by an audiobook which includes original music composed especially for the program by Carly Simon and Teese Gohl and a previously unreleased bonus song as well as a musical CD entitled Songs From The Trees. The 31 track album features two unreleased tracks, one entitled “I Can’t Thank You Enough,” a duo co-written and performed by Carly and her son Ben Taylor and “Showdown,” a song originally recorded during the sessions for her 1978 album Boys In The Trees.

Carly Simon has had an indelible impact on popular music and continues to create, influence and inspire. 


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About Season Four

Season four of Finding Your Roots series moves fluidly from Asia and Africa to Europe and the Americas, uniting us all through emotional moments that enrich and enlighten—encouraging us to look at our world through a wider, more inclusive lens. Learn more here.

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