Vikki Carr (born July 19, 1941 in El Paso, Texas as Florencia Bisenta de Casillas Martinez Cardona) is an American singer who has sung in a variety of music genres, including jazz, pop and country, but has enjoyed her greatest success singing in Spanish.
Her first hit was He's a Rebel, which in 1962 reached No. 5 in Australia and No. 115 in the U.S.A.
In 1966 she toured Vietnam with actor/comedian Danny Kaye. The following year her album It Must Be Him was nominated for three Grammy Awards. The title track from that album reached No. 3 on the music charts in the U.S.A. in 1967. Altogether she had three songs which made the U.S. top 40 in the late '60s, the other two being The Lesson in 1968 and With Pen in Hand in 1969. Around this time, Dean Martin called her "the best girl singer in the business." Vikki had thirteen albums which made the U.S. pop album charts.
In 1968, she taped six Vikki Carr specials for London Weekend TV. In 1970, she was named "Woman of the Year" by the Los Angeles Times. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1981. Carr also achieved the rare feat of singing for five presidents during her career: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George Bush. When she appeared at the White House for the Fords, she asked President Ford, "What Mexican dish do you like?" His response: "I like you." After that Betty Ford reportedly barred Carr from performing at the White House during Ford's tenure.
In the 1980s and 1990s she had enormous success in the Latin music world, winning Grammy Awards for Best Mexican-American Recording in 1985 for the album Simplemente Mujer; for Latin Pop Album in 1992 for the disc Cosas del Amor; and for Best Mexican-American Recording in 1995 for Recuerdo a Javier Solis. She also received Grammy nominations for the discs Brindo a La Vida, Al Bolero, A Ti (1993) and Emociones (1996). Her numerous Spanish-language hit singles include Total, Disculpame, Dejame, Hay Otro en Tu Lugar, Esos Hombres, Mala Suerte and Cosas del Amor. The latter song spent more than two months at No. 1 on the U.S. Latin charts in 1991, her biggest Spanish-language U.S. hit. Her Spanish-language albums have been certified gold and platinum in the United States, Mexico, Chile, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador.
In recent years, she taped a PBS TV special, Vikki Carr: Memories, Memorias (1999}, in which she performed popular bilingual tunes from the 1940s and 1950s. Her guests were Pepe Aguilar, Arturo Sandoval and Jack Jones. In 2000, she released a bilingual holiday album, The Vikki Carr Christmas Album.
In 2002, she appeared to great acclaim in a Los Angeles production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Follies, which also featured Hal Linden, Patty Duke and Harry Groener.
Respected as both an artist and a humanitarian, she devotes time to many charities including the United Way, the American Lung Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and St. Jude's Hospital. For 22 years she held benefit concerts to support Holy Cross High School in San Antonio, Texas. In 1971, she established the Vikki Carr Scholarship Foundation, dedicated to offering college scholarships to Hispanic students in California and Texas. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than 280 scholarships totaling over a quarter of a million dollars.