The career of singer-songwriter Carole King (b. February 9, 1942) is unparalleled. She is a four-time Grammy Award-winner, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a 2015 Kennedy Center Honoree and the first woman to be awarded The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. To date, more than 400 of her compositions have been recorded by more than 1,000 artists, resulting in 100 hit singles, including songs co-written with Gerry Goffin: “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (The Shirelles), “Up on the Roof” (The Drifters) and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (Aretha Franklin).
Now, King tells her own story in the new documentary American Masters – Carole King: Natural Woman, premiering nationwide Friday, February 19 at 9 pm. on PBS (check local listings) as part of the 30th anniversary season of THIRTEEN’s American Masters series. This year also marks the 45th anniversary of King’s landmark solo album Tapestry, which was released February 10, 1971, and spawned the hits “It’s Too Late,” “I Feel the Earth Move,” “You’ve Got a Friend” and “So Far Away.”
Weaving previously unseen and rare performances and home movies with a new, exclusive interview with King, American Masters – Carole King: Natural Woman delves into her life and career. New interviews with friends and colleagues, including fellow songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Tapestry producer Lou Adler, drummer Russ Kunkel, guitarist Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, daughter and manager Sherry Goffin Kondor, lyricists Toni Stern and Carole Bayer Sager, and former manager Peter Asher, complete the biographical tapestry.
Director George Scott (Rufus Wainwright – Prima Donna, Great Performances “Elizabeth Taylor: England’sOther Elizabeth”) journeys through King’s Brooklyn childhood, her early success co-writing some of the best-loved pop songs of the 1960s with then-husband Goffin for Aldon Music, and, following their divorce, her move to Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles with two young children. There, she achieved solo success and became a central figure in the 1970s singer-songwriter movement, along with her contemporaries James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. King speaks candidly about her abusive marriage to Rick Evers, life on a ranch in Idaho, eco-activism, and initial hesitance about Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Douglas McGrath, writer of the Broadway musical’s book, and author/music critic Anthony DeCurtis provide additional insights.
“Carole King has provided the soundtrack to so many Americans’ lives, and her music remains current — when Aretha Franklin sang ‘Natural Woman’ last week, it trended on social media,” said Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters.
American Masters – Carole King: Natural Woman is a production of 1515 Productions in association with THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC‘s American Masters for WNET. George Scott is the director, Celia Moore is the producer and Nick de Grunwald serves as the executive producer. Michael Kantor is executive producer for American Masters.
Launched in 1986, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. The series’ 30th anniversary season on PBS features new documentaries about Mike Nichols (January 29), B.B. King (February 12), Fats Domino (February 26), Loretta Lynn (March 4), Janis Joplin (May 3) and The Highwaymen (May 27).
To further explore the lives and works of masters past and present, the American Masters website (http://pbs.org/americanmasters) offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, photos, educational resources and more. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel.
Funding for American Masters is provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rhoda Herrick, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Lenore Hecht Foundation, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Judith and Burton Resnick, and public television viewers.