Dionne Warwick

  • R&B and gospel singer born Marie Dionne Warrick in 1940, in East Orange New Jersey. She later changed her surname to Warwick.
  • Her mother was a member of a gospel group called The Drinkard Sisters, and gospel music was always around the home. Dionne sang with the gospel group, and later with a group called The Gospelaires. After high school, she went to Hartt College of Music in Connecticut, and she and others from The Gospelaires sang backing vocals at some recording sessions in New York. During one session, she met famed composer Burt Bacharach, who hired her to record demos of his new songs written with Hal David. Her demo performance of Bacharach’s It’s Love That Really Counts caught the attention of the president of a record company, and she was signed to a recording deal in 1962.
  • Warwick’s first single, Don’t Make Me Over, was released in 1962, and her debut album, Presenting Dionne Warwick, was released early the next year. The songs were the first of nearly 100 Bacharach and David songs performed by Warwick – she became the “voice of Bacharach and David.” Her name was misspelled on the label of the single – instead of Warrick, it said Warwick. She decided to use that spelling for the rest of her career.
  • After 2 more singles, she released Anyone Who Had A Heart in 1963. It was her first Top 10 hit, reaching #8 on the Hot 100 chart. Between 1964 and 1970, she released 13 more albums – 8 of these were top 10 records in the R&B chart. Her signature top 10 hits were from this period – Walk On By, I Say A Little Prayer, (Theme From) Valley of the Dolls, Do You Know The Way To San Jose, and I’ll Never Fall In Love Again. All were Bacharach/David songs, except for Valley of the Dolls, from the soundtrack of the film.
  • In 1971, she signed a new recording contract for $5 million – at the time, the largest contract ever given to a female artist. Five albums were released between 1972 and 1977. These records did not sell well, except for a single she released together with the group The Spinners – Then Came You – which reached #1 on the Hot 100 chart. One reason her career stalled – the breakup of Bacharach and David in 1972.
  • After her contract was fulfilled, she signed with another record company in 1979, and she had some renewed success. Eleven albums were released between 1979 and 1994. The first album, titled Dionne, was her only certified platinum album. It included the single Ill Never Love This Way Again, which peaked at #5 on the Hot 100. Her biggest hit was in 1985 – That’s What Friends Are For was a charity single released for AIDS research and prevention. The song was performed by “Dionne & Friends” – the friends were Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder. The song was the biggest selling single of the year, and it won 2 Grammy awards, including Song of the Year.
  • Warwick has periodically released new music since 1998. She released a Christmas album in 2004, and has released 2 duets albums, collaborating with artists including Cyndi Lauper, Wynonna Judd, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder and Ziggy Marley. Her most recent release is a 5 song EP from 2017 called Tropical Love.
  • Dionne is sister to singer Dee Dee Warwick, and cousin to Whitney Houston. She won 5 Grammy awards, and also has 3 songs in the Grammy Hall of Fame – Alfie, Walk On By and Don’t Make Me Over. In 2019, she was recognized with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award. Only Aretha Franklin had more singles by a female artist charting on the Billboard Hot 100 – Warwick had 56 singles chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (Aretha had 77).
  • Dionne Warwick’s music will always be connected with Bacharach/David compositions, but she showed that she could be very successful with other music as well. Here is Warwick singing 3 of her classics (with Bacharach on the piano) – Walk On By, I Say A Little Prayer, and Do You Know The Way To San Jose – sorry about the spanish subtitles here. Great songs from long long ago!

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