Born: December 12, 1940 Primary Instrument: Vocal
It is easier to define Dionne Warwick by what she isn't rather than what she is. Although she grew up singing in church, she is not a gospel singer. Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan are clear influences, but she is not a jazz singer. R&B is also part of her background, but she is not really a soul singer, either, at least not in the sense that Aretha Franklin is. Sophisticated is a word often used to describe her musical approach and the music she sings, but she is not a singer of standards such as Lena Horne or Nancy Wilson. What is she, then? She is a pop singer of a sort that perhaps could only have emerged out of the Brill Building environment of post-Elvis Presley, pre-Beatles urban pop in the early '60s. That's when she hooked up with Burt Bacharach and Hal David, songwriters and producers who wrote their unusually complicated songs for her aching yet detached alto voice. Warwick is inescapably associated with those songs, even though she managed to build a career after leaving Bacharach and David that drew upon their style for other memorable recordings, such that she remains a unique figure in popular music.
Marie Dionne Warrick was born into a gospel-music family. Her father was a gospel record promoter for Chess Records and her mother managed the Drinkard Singers, a gospel group consisting of her relatives. She first raised her voice in song at age six at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, NJ, and soon after was a member of the choir. As a teenager, she formed a singing group called the Gospelaires with her sister Dee Dee and her aunt Cissy Houston (later the mother of Whitney Houston). After graduating from high school in 1959, she earned a music scholarship to the Hartt College of Music in Hartford, CT, but she also spent time with her group recording background vocals on sessions in New York. The Gospelaires are said to be present on such well-known recordings as Ben E. King's Spanish Harlem and Stand By Me. They were at a Drifters session working on a song called Mexican Divorce composed by Burt Bacharach when Bacharach, attending the session, suggested Warwick might do some demos for him. She did, singing songs he had written with lyricist Hal David. Bacharach and David pitched one of the songs to Florence Greenberg, head of the small independent Scepter Records label, and Greenberg liked the demo singer enough to sign her as a recording artist. Bacharach and David wrote and produced her first single, Don't Make Me Over, in 1962. When the record was released, the performer credit contained a typo; it read Dionne Warwick instead of Dionne Warrick, and she kept the new name. (Her sister Dee Dee eventually became Dee Dee Warwick as well.)
Don't Make Me Over peaked in the Top 20 of the pop charts in early 1963, also reaching the Top Five of the R&B charts. Warwick's subsequent singles were not as successful, but in early 1964, she reached the pop and R&B Top Ten and the Top Five of the easy listening charts with Anyone Who Had a Heart, which was also her first record to reach the charts in the U.K. (There, such singers as Cilla Black and Dusty Springfield sometimes would cover her records before her own versions had a chance to become hits.) Walk on By followed it into the Top Ten of the pop, easy listening, and U.K. charts in the spring of 1964, and it hit number one on the R&B charts. By then, the Beatles had arrived on the American scene, followed by the British Invasion, and for a while, pop artists like Warwick took a beating on the charts. Nevertheless, the singer continued to place singles and LPs in the rankings over the next couple of years and in the spring of 1966, she returned to the Top Ten of the pop charts and the Top Five of the R&B charts with Message to Michael. Other, more modest hits followed, including the most successful U.S. recording of the title song from the movie Alfie, which reached the R&B Top Five and the pop Top 20 in the spring of 1967. That summer, Warwick topped the R&B LP charts with her gold- selling Here Where There Is Love album and by the fall, Scepter had amassed enough chart singles to issue Dionne Warwick's Golden Hits, Pt. 1, her first album to reach the pop Top Ten.
Curiously, Warwick's career reached a new level with a single not written by Bacharach and David, although they produced it. It was (Theme From) Valley of the Dolls, written by André and Dory Previn and issued at the end of 1967. The record reached the Top Five of the pop, R&B, and easy listening charts. Its B-side, Bacharach and David's I Say a Little Prayer, reached the Top Five of the pop and R&B charts, helping the single become a gold record and the Valley of the Dolls LP also made the Top Five of the pop and R&B charts and went gold. With that, Warwick was on a roll. Her next single, Do You Know the Way to San José, reached the pop Top Ten and the R&B and easy listening Top Five in the spring of 1968 and won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Performance, Female. In the winter of 1969, her version of This Guy's in Love With You, re-titled This Girl's in Love With You, made the pop and R&B Top Ten and the easy listening Top Five and in early 1970, I'll Never Fall in Love Again from Bacharach and David's score for the Broadway musical Promises, Promises made the pop Top Ten and topped the easy listening charts, bringing her another Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Female.
In 1971, Warwick added an e to the end of her name on the advice of a numerologist, retaining the new spelling until 1975. She also left Scepter Records and signed a deal with the major label Warner Bros. that included Bacharach and David as her writer and producer. The team produced the 1972 album Dionne, which was a modest seller, but then Bacharach and David split up in the wake of the critical and commercial failure of their work on a musical remake of the film Lost Horizon in 1973. Due to her contractual commitment, Warwick was forced to sue her old partners. A settlement was reached, but they would not work together again for many years and Warwick's career suffered.
Warwick bounced back with Then Came You, a song she recorded with the Spinners, which topped the pop and R&B charts and reached the Top Five of the easy listening charts in October 1974, going gold in the process. It proved to be a one-off success, but Warwick (now without the e) signed to Arista Records in 1979 and returned to the Top Five of the pop adult contemporary (formerly easy listening) charts with I'll Never Love This Way Again, produced by labelmate Barry Manilow and featured on her first platinum- selling album, another LP simply titled Dionne. Deja Vu, also from the album, was a Top 20 pop and number one adult contemporary hit. I'll Never Love This Way Again won Warwick her third Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female; Deja Vu won her her fourth for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance, Female.
Warwick topped the adult contemporary charts in 1980 with No Night So Long, but her next across-the-board hit did not come until she hooked up with the Bee Gees for her 1982 album Heartbreaker. Barry Gibb produced the gold- selling LP and the three Gibb brothers wrote the title song, which made the pop Top Ten and topped the adult contemporary charts. In 1985, Warwick was reconciled with Bacharach and she organized a charity recording of his and Carole Bayer Sager's song That's What Friends Are For to benefit AIDS, featuring Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder, in addition to herself. The record topped the pop, R&B, and adult contemporary charts in the winter of 1985-1986, the album Friends on which it was included went gold, and the song earned Warwick her fifth Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. In 1987, Warwick topped the adult contemporary charts and reached the Top Five of the R&B charts with Love Power, a duet with Jeffrey Osborne that was another Bacharach/Sager composition.
Warwick enjoyed less commercial success after the late '80s. She parted ways with Arista Records after her 1995 album Aquarela Do Brazil. In 1998, she issued Dionne Sings Dionne, an album consisting largely of re-recordings of her hits, on River North Records
Source: William Ruhlmann
Awards:NARAS Grammy Award 1968: "Best Contemporary Female Solo Vocal Performance" for the single, "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?."
NARAS Grammy Award 1970: "Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Female" for the album, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again".
NARAS Grammy Award 1979: "Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female" for the single, "Déjà Vu."
NARAS Grammy Award 1979: "Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female" for the single, "I'll Never Love This Way Again."
NARAS Grammy Award 1986: "Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal" for the single, "That's What Friends Are For."
NARAS Grammy Hall of Fame-Don't Make Me Over
NARAS Grammy Hall of Fame-Walk on By.
NARAS Grammy Hall of Fame-Alfie.
NARAS Grammy Nominations for:
Walk On By-1964; Alfie-1967; I Say A Little Prayer- 1967; This Girl's In Love With You-1969; Then Came You- 1974; That's What Friends Are For (Record of the Year)- 1986; Friends (Album)-1986.
Woman of the Year-1969 Harvard Hasty Pudding Society
Cannes Film Festival Nominee-Slaves-1969
Cash Box Magazine-#1 Female Vocalist-1964
Cash Box Magazine-#1 R & B Female Vocalist; #2 Pop- 1966
Cash Box Magazine-#2 R & B;# 2 Pop-1967
Cash Box Magazine-#2 R & B;# 2 Pop-1968
Cash Box Magazine-#1 Female Vocalist (Albums and Singles)-1969
Cash Box Magazine-#1 Female Vocalist (Albums and Singles)-1970
Cash Box Magazine-#1 Female Vocalist (Albums and Singles)-1971
NARM (National Association of Record Mercandisers) #1 Popular Vocalist-Female 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970,1971.
Playboy Magazine Music Poll-Top Female Vocalist-1971;
Playboy's All-Star Band for 1971-Female Vocals
The first People's Choice for Favorite Female Singer (1975)-
WINNER-1980 Tokyo Intl POP Music Festival for her performance of "FEELING OLD FEELINGS" from her Arista debut album "DIONNE" produced by Barry Manilow. The song was awarded Song of the Year...the equivalent of the Japanese Grammy.
Mayors Award and Key to the City-San Jose, California- 1968
NAACP Image Awards Entertainer of the Year-1986
American Music Awards-Special Recognition- "That's What Friends Are For"-1987
Billboard Music Awards-# 1 Single of the Year-"That's What Friends Are For"-1987
ACE Award Nominee for "Sisters in the Name of Love"- Dionne Warwick (HBO-1987)
United States Ambassador of Health-Appointed by Ronald Reagan-1987
ASCAP Lifetime Achievement Award-1998
National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame-Hitmaker Award-2001
ASCAP Heroes Award-2002
United Nations Global Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-appointed 2002
Women's World Award-Lifetime Achievement Award-2003
Rhythm & Blues Foundation-Lifetime Achievement Award- 2003
American Society of Young Musicians-Luminary Award- 1997
National Music Foundation-Cultural Impact Award-1998
NABFEME Shero Award (The National Association of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment)-2006
The Temecula Valley International Film & Music Festival- Lifetime Career Achievement Award-2006
Miami Dade Life Time Achievement Award-2007 and Dionne Warwick Day-May 25
Kleenex American Hero Award-1987
Starlight Foundation's Humanitarian of the Year Award
Bella Rackoff Women in Film Humanitarian Award
Trumpet Awards-Living Legend Award-2007
Lincoln Elementary School in East Orange, NJ, honored her by renaming it to the Dionne Warwick Institute of Economics and Entrepreneurship
1963 "Anyone Who Had a Heart"
1964 "Walk On By" (A-side)/
"Any Old Time of Day" (B-side)
1964 "You'll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)" (A-side)/
"A House Is Not a Home" (B-side)
1964 "Reach Out for Me"
1965 "Are You There (With Another Girl)"
1966 "Message to Michael"
1966 "Trains and Boats and Planes"
1966 "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself"
1967 "Alfie" (B-side)/
“The Beginning of Loneliness” (A-side)
1967 "The Windows of the World"
1967 "I Say a Little Prayer" (A-side)
1968 "(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls"
1968 "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" (A-side)
”Let Me Be Lonely” (B-side)
1968 "Who Is Gonna Love Me?" (A-side)
"(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" (B-side)
1968 "Promises, Promises"
1969 "This Girl's in Love with You"
1969 "The April Fools" 37 33 8 32 -
1969 "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
1969 "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"
1970 "Let Me Go to Him"
1970 "Make It Easy on Yourself"
1974 "Then Came You" (with The Spinners)
1979 "I'll Never Love This Way Again"
1979 "Déjà Vu"
1980 "After You"
1980 "No Night So Long"
1980 "Easy Love"
1981 "Some Changes Are For Good"
1982 "Friends in Love" (with Johnny Mathis)
1982 "For You"
1983 "Take The Short Way Home"
1983 "All the Love in the World"
1983 "How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye" (with Luther Vandross)
1984 "Got A Date"
1984 "Finder Of Lost Loves" (with Glenn Jones)
1985 "Run To Me" (with Barry Manilow)
1985 "That's What Friends Are For"
(Dionne & Friends: Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder)
1986 "Whisper In The Dark"
1987 "Love Power" (with Jeffrey Osborne)
1987 "Reservations For Two" (with Kashif)
1988 "Another Chance To Love" (with Howard Hewett)
1989 "Take Good Care Of You And Me" (with Jeffrey Osborne)
1991 "It's All Over" (with Blue System)
1998 "What The World Needs Now Is Love"
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