The Story and Music of Cathy Carr


The late traditional pop singer Cathy Carr (1936-1988) was a Bronx, New York native who started her entertainment career as a child performer on The Children’s Hour. As an adult, she went on to etch several placements on the Billboard pop music chart during the 50s music era. However, “Ivory Tower” proved to be her one and only hit, reaching the the top ten in 1956. But her other singles, such as her version of “To Know Him Is to Love Him,” failed to chart. Carr died in New York in 1988.

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Early life and career

American songstress Cathy Carr was born Angelina Helen Catherine Cordovano in Bronx, New York on June 28, 1936. As a young girl, Cordovano made her appearance on the television variety show The Children’s Hour, sponsored by Horn & Hardart (which is a now-defunct food services firm which operated the nation’s first food automats — self-service types of restaurant with just vending machines as chief servers). The company had a chain of restaurants in Philadelphia and New York.

As Cordovano — or Cathy Carr by then — grew up, she was part of the United Service Organizations (USO) where she worked as singer and dancer. She also worked with big band orchestras such as those led by Johnny Dee and Sammy Kaye.

During 1953 Carr ventured into the recording career and signed a contract with Coral Records. She recorded and released some singles but wasn’t able to achieve any hits.

Carr then jumped to Cincinnati, Ohio-based imprint Fraternity Records in 1955. After three flop singles from Fraternity, she was finally able to notch her first hit — and a big one at that — with her rendition of the hit song “Ivory Tower.” It reached #2 on the Billboard pop chart; but big it was, “Ivory Tower” was also to be her only major hit. Carr’s first album, also titled Ivory Tower, was subsequently released. Her second charting Fraternity-released single “Heart Hideaway,” was only a small hit at #67.
In 1959 Carr moved to Roulette Records, where she went on to have other minor hits until 1961 such as “First Anniversary” (#42, pop), “I’m Gonna Change Him” (#63, pop), “Little Sister” (#106, pop) and “Sailor Boy” (#103, pop). Her rendition of Phil Spector’s “To Know Him Is to Love Him” was largely ignored in favor of the original take by the Teddy Bears. She recorded briefly for Smash Records in her attempt to record more adult-oriented pop songs, but went back to teenybopper tunes again when she recorded for Laurie Records. Her single there “Sailor Boy,” bubbled under the Hot 100 in 1962. She moved to RCA where she recorded pop standards, before RCA released her last single in 1967.

The growing popularity of rock and roll and beat music made it increasingly harder for traditional pop singers like Carr to gain a decent hit. Aside from that, her affinity towards teenage pop (despite her age) and not trying to include more mature songs to her repertoire held her back from growing as an artist.

Carr died in Fayetteville, New York in 1988, aged 52.