Karen Anne Carpenter (March 2, 1950 – February 4, 1983) was an American singer and drummer who with her elder brother Richard performed as the duo the Carpenters. With a distinctive three-octave contralto vocal range, she was praised by her peers as a great vocalist. Her struggle with and eventual death from anorexia would later raise awareness of eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
Carpenter was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and moved to Downey, California in 1963 with her family. She began to study the drums in high school and joined the Long Beach State choir after graduating. After several years of touring and recording, Carpenters were signed to A&M Records in 1969, achieving enormous commercial and critical success throughout the 1970s. Initially, Carpenter was the band’s full-time drummer, but she gradually took the role of frontwoman as her drumming was reduced to a handful of live showcases or tracks on albums. While the Carpenters were on hiatus in the late 1970s, she recorded a solo album, which was released years after her death.
At the age of 32, Carpenter died of heart failure due to complications from anorexia nervosa, which was little-known at the time, and her death led to increased visibility and awareness of eating disorders. Interest in her life and death has spawned numerous documentaries and movies. Her work continues to attract praise, including appearing on Rolling Stone’s 2010 list of the 100 greatest singers of all time. (Wikipedia)