Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick

Born: December 12, 1940
Age: 82
Birthplace: Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
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Marie Dionne Warwick (/ˈdiːɒn ˈwɒrɪk/; née Warrick; born December 12, 1940) is an American singer, actress, and television show host who became a United Nations Global Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization and a United States Ambassador of Health.

Warwick ranks among the 40 biggest hit makers of the entire rock era, based on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Charts. She is second only to Aretha Franklin as the most-charted female vocalist of all time, with 56 of her singles making the Billboard Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998, and 80 singles making all Billboard charts combined.[1]

Marie Dionne Warrick, later Warwick, was born on December 12, 1940 in Orange, New Jersey, to Mancel Warrick and Lee Drinkard. Her mother was manager of the Drinkard Singers, and her father was a Pullman porter, chef, record promoter and CPA. Dionne was named after her aunt on her mother's side.[2] She had a sister, Delia ("Dee Dee"), who died in 2008 and a brother, Mancel Jr., who was killed in an accident in 1968 at age 21. Her parents were both African American, and she also has Native American, Brazilian and Dutch ancestry.[3]

She was raised in East Orange, New Jersey and was also a Girl Scout for a period of time. After finishing East Orange High School in 1959, Warwick pursued her passion at the Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut.[4] She also landed some work with her group singing backing vocals for recording sessions in New York City. During one session, Warwick met Burt Bacharach, who hired her to record demos featuring songs written by him and lyricist Hal David. She later landed her own record deal.[5]



Drinkard Singers

Many of Warwick's family were members of the Drinkard Singers, a renowned family gospel group and RCA recording artists who frequently performed throughout the New York metropolitan area. The original group (known as the Drinkard Jubilairs) consisted of Cissy, Anne, Larry, and Nicky, and later included Warwick's grandparents, Nicholas and Delia Drinkard, and their children: William, Lee (Warwick's mother) and Hansom.

Marie instructed the group, and they were managed by Lee. As they became more successful, Lee and Marie began performing with the group, and they were augmented by pop/R&B singer Judy Clay, whom Lee had unofficially adopted. Elvis Presley eventually expressed an interest in having them join his touring entourage. Dionne began singing gospel as a child at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey.[6]

The Gospelaires

Other singers joined the Gospelaires from time to time, including Judy Clay, Cissy Houston and Doris "Rikii" Troy, whose chart selection "Just One Look," when she recorded it in 1963, featured backing vocals from the Gospelaires. After personnel changes (Dionne and Doris left the group after achieving solo success), the Gospelaires became the recording group the Sweet Inspirations, who had some chart success, but were much sought-after as studio background singers. The Gospelaires and later the Sweet Inspirations performed on many records cut in New York City for artists such as Garnet Mimms, the Drifters, Jerry Butler, Solomon Burke and later Warwick's recordings, Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley.[1] Warwick recalled, in her 2002 A&E Biography, that "a man came running frantically backstage at the Apollo and said he needed background singers for a session for Sam "the Man" Taylor and old big-mouth here spoke up and said 'We'll do it!' and we left and did the session. I wish I remembered the gentleman's name because he was responsible for the beginning of my professional career."[citation needed]

The backstage encounter led to the group being asked to sing background sessions at recording studios in New York. Soon, the group were in demand in New York music circles for their background work for such artists as the Drifters, Ben E. King, Chuck Jackson, Dinah Washington, Ronnie "the Hawk" Hawkins, and Solomon Burke, among many others. Warwick remembered, in her A&E Biography,[full citation needed] that after school, they would catch a bus from East Orange to the Port Authority Terminal, then take the subway to recording studios in Manhattan, perform their background gigs and be back at home in East Orange in time to do their school homework. Her background vocal work would continue while Warwick pursued her studies at Hartt.[citation needed]


While she was performing background on the Drifters' recording of "Mexican Divorce," Warwick's voice and star presence were noticed by the song's composer, Burt Bacharach, a Brill Building songwriter who was writing songs with many other songwriters, including lyricist Hal David.[7] According to a July 14, 1967 article on Warwick in Time, Bacharach stated, "She has a tremendous strong side and a delicacy when singing softly — like miniature ships in bottles." Musically, she was "no play-safe girl. What emotion I could get away with!" And what complexity, compared with the usual run of pop songs. During the session, Bacharach asked Warwick if she would be interested in recording demonstration recordings of his compositions to pitch the tunes to record labels. One such demo, "It's Love That Really Counts" — destined to be recorded by Scepter-signed act the Shirelles — caught the attention of the President of Scepter Records, Florence Greenberg, who, according to Current Biography (1969 Yearbook), told Bacharach, "Forget the song, get the girl!"[8]

Warwick was signed to Bacharach's and David's production company, according to Warwick, which in turn was signed to Scepter Records in 1962 by Greenberg. The partnership would provide Bacharach with the freedom to produce Warwick without the control of recording company executives and company A&R men. Warwick's musical ability and education would also allow Bacharach to compose more challenging tunes.[7] The demo version of "It's Love That Really Counts", along with her original demo of "Make It Easy on Yourself", would surface on Warwick's debut Scepter album, Presenting Dionne Warwick, which was released in early 1963.[8]

Early stardom

In November 1962, Scepter Records released her first solo single, "Don't Make Me Over", the title of which (according to the A&E Biography of Dionne Warwick) Warwick supplied herself when she snapped the phrase at producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David in anger. Warwick had found out that "Make It Easy on Yourself" — a song on which she had recorded the original demo and had wanted to be her first single release — had been given to another artist, Jerry Butler.[1] From the phrase "don't make me over", Bacharach and David created their first top 40 pop hit (#21) and a top 5 U.S. R&B hit. Warrick's name was misspelled on the single's label, and she began using the new spelling (i.e., "Warwick") both professionally and personally.[9]

According to the July 14, 1967 Time magazine article,[10] after "Don't Make Me Over" hit in 1962, she answered the call of her manager ("C'mon, baby, you gotta go"), left school and went on a tour of France, where critics crowned her "Paris' Black Pearl," having been introduced on stage at Paris Olympia that year by Marlene Dietrich. Rhapsodized Jean Monteaux in Arts: "The play of this voice makes you think sometimes of an eel, of a storm, of a cradle, a knot of seaweed, a dagger. It is not a voice so much as an organ. You could write fugues for Warwick's voice."[citation needed]

The two immediate follow-ups to "Don't Make Me Over" — "This Empty Place" (with "B" side "Wishin' and Hopin' " later recorded by Dusty Springfield) and "Make The Music Play" — charted briefly in the top 100. Her fourth single, "Anyone Who Had a Heart,"[7] released in December 1963, was Warwick's first top 10 pop hit (#8) in the U.S. and also an international million seller. This was followed by "Walk On By" in April 1964, a major international hit and million seller that solidified her career. For the rest of the 1960s, Warwick was a fixture on the U.S. and Canadian charts, and much of her output from 1962 to 1971 was written and produced by the Bacharach/David team.

Warwick weathered the British Invasion better than most American artists. Her UK hits were most notably "Walk On By" and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?"[7] In the UK, a number of Bacharach-David-Warwick songs were recorded by British singers Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield, most notably Black's "Anyone Who Had a Heart" which went to No. 1 in the UK. This upset Warwick, who described feeling insulted when told that in the UK, record company executives wanted her songs recorded by someone else. Warwick even met Cilla Black while on tour in Britain. She recalled what she said to her: "I told her that "You're My World" would be my next single in the States. I honestly believe that if I'd sneezed on my next record, then Cilla would have sneezed on hers too. There was no imagination in her recording."[11] Warwick later covered two of Cilla's songs - "You're My World" appeared on Dionne Warwick in Valley of the Dolls, released in 1968 and on the soundtrack to Alfie.

Warwick was named the Bestselling Female Vocalist in the Cash Box Magazine poll in 1964, with six chart hits in that year. Cash Box named her the Top Female Vocalist in 1969, 1970 and 1971. In the 1967 Cash Box poll, she was second to Petula Clark, and in 1968's poll second to Aretha Franklin. Playboy's influential Music Poll of 1970 named her the Top Female Vocalist. In 1969, Harvard's Hasty Pudding Society named her Woman of the Year.[12]

In the May 21, 1965 Time cover article entitled "The Sound of the Sixties," Warwick's sound was described as follows

Swinging World. Scholarly articles probe the relationship between the Beatles and the nouvelle vague films of Jean-Luc Godard, discuss "the brio and elegance" of Dionne Warwick's singing style as a 'pleasurable but complex' event to be 'experienced without condescension.' In chic circles, anyone damning rock 'n' roll is labeled not only square but uncultured. For inspirational purposes, such hip artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers and Andy Warhol occasionally paint while listening to rock 'n' roll music. Explains Warhol: "It makes me mindless, and I paint better." After gallery openings in Manhattan, the black-tie gatherings often adjourn to a discothèque.[13]

In 1965, Eon Productions intended to use Warwick's song titled "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" as the theme song of Thunderball until Albert Broccoli insisted that the theme song include the film's title. A new song was composed and recorded in the eleventh hour titled "Thunderball", performed by Tom Jones. The melody of "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" remains a major component of the film score. The Ultimate Edition DVD of Thunderball has the Warwick song playing over the titles on one of the commentary track extras, and the song was released on the 30th anniversary CD of Bond songs.

Mid-1960s to early 1970s

In My Life, as I See It: An Autobiography, Warwick lists her honorary doctorate from Hartt among those awarded by six other institutions: Hartt College, Bethune-Cookman University, Shaw University, Columbia College of Chicago, Lincoln College, Illinois ,[22] and University of Maryland Eastern Shore.[citation needed]

Personal life

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Dionne Warwick married actor and drummer William David Elliott (1934-1983) (CBS' Bridget Loves Bernie - 1972-73) in 1966; they divorced in May 1967. They reconciled and were remarried in Milan, Italy, in August 1967, according to Time. On January 18, 1969, while living in East Orange, New Jersey, she gave birth to her first son, David Elliott. In 1973, her second son Damon Elliott was born. On May 30, 1975, the couple separated and Warwick was granted a divorce in December 1975 in Los Angeles. The court denied Elliott's request for $2000 a month in support pending a community property trial, and for $5000, when he insisted he was making $500 a month in comparison to Warwick making $100,000 a month. Warwick stated in Don't Make Me Over: Dionne Warwick, a 2002 Biography Channel interview, "I was the breadwinner. The male ego is a fragile thing. It's hard when the woman is the breadwinner. All my life, the only man who ever took care of me financially was my father. I have always taken care of myself."[citation needed]

In 2002 Warwick was arrested at Miami International Airport for possession of marijuana. It was discovered that she had 11 suspected marijuana cigarettes inside her carry-on luggage, hidden in a lipstick container. She was charged with possessing marijuana totaling less than five grams.[23][24]

Warwick made the Top 250 Delinquent Taxpayers List published in October 2007. California Revenue & Taxation Code Section 19195 directs the Franchise Tax Board to publish an annual list of the top 250 taxpayers with liened state income tax delinquencies greater than $100,000 in an effort to collect money from those taxpayers, some of whom have been delinquent since 1987. Warwick was listed with a tax delinquency of $2,665,305.83 in personal income tax and a tax lien was filed July 24, 1997.[1] The IRS eventually discovered that a large portion of the lien was due to an accounting error, and revoked $1.2mil of the tax lien in 2009.[25][26]

Warwick lived in Brazil, a country she first visited in the early 1960s, until 2005, according to an interview with JazzWax, when she moved back to the United States to be near her ailing mother and sister. She became so entranced by Brazil that she studied Portuguese and divided her time between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In April 2010, in an interview on talk-show Programa do Jô, she said Brazil was the place where she intended to spend the rest of her life after retiring.[1]

In 1993, her older son David, a former Los Angeles police officer, co-wrote with Terry Steele the Warwick-Whitney Houston duet "Love Will Find a Way", featured on her album, Friends Can Be Lovers. Since 2002, he has periodically toured with and performed duets with his mother, and had his acting debut in the film Ali as the singer Sam Cooke. David became a singer-songwriter, with Luther Vandross' "Here and Now" among others to his credit.[1]

Her second son, Damon Elliott, is also a noted music producer, who has worked with Mýa, Pink, Christina Aguilera and Keyshia Cole. He arranged and produced his mother's 2006 Concord release My Friends and Me.[1] She received a 2014 Grammy Award nomination in the Traditional Pop Category for her 2013 album release, Now.[27]

On January 24, 2015, Warwick was hospitalized after a fall in the shower at her home. After ankle surgery, she was released from the hospital.[28][29]


Warwick declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New Jersey on March 21, 2013.[30] Due to the reported mismanagement of her business affairs, she lists liabilities that include nearly $7 million owed to the Internal Revenue Service for the years 1991 to 1999 and more than $3 million in business taxes owed to the state of California. Unable to work out an agreement with tax officials, she and her attorney decided that declaring bankruptcy would be the best course of action.[31]


  • Warwick's sister Dee Dee Warwick also had a successful singing career, scoring several notable R&B hits, including the original version of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" and "I Want To Be With You", from the Broadway version of the musical 'Golden Boy'.[1] She also recorded the original version of the song "You're No Good", which later became an R&B hit for the late Betty Everett and also a #1 Pop smash for Linda Ronstadt. It was also covered by Liverpool group The Swinging Blue Jeans in 1964, reaching No.3 in the UK and No.97 in the US. This group also recorded 'Don't Make Me Over' and had a 1966 hit, reaching No. 31 in UK.
  • Warwick's cousin was the singer Whitney Houston, and her aunt is gospel-trained vocalist Cissy Houston, Whitney's mother.[1]
  • In her 2011 autobiography, My Life, as I See It, Warwick notes that opera diva Leontyne Price is a maternal cousin.[32]


Main article: Dionne Warwick discography


  • Dionne Warwick Tour (1966)
  • Dionne: 40 Anniversary Tour (2002)
  • Soul Divas Tour (2004)
  • An Evening with Dionne (2007)

Awards and honors

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Grammy Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
1965 "Walk On By (song)" Best Rhythm and Blues Recording Nominated
1968 "Alfie" Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
"I Say a Little Prayer" Best Contemporary Female Solo Vocal Performance Nominated
1969 "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Won
1970 "This Girl's in Love with You" Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
1971 "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Won
1975 "Then Came You" Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group with Vocals Nominated
1980 "I'll Never Love This Way Again" Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Won
"Déjà Vu" Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Won
1987 "That's What Friends Are For"
Record of the Year Nominated
Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Won
Friends Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
1992 "Superwoman" Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
2014 Now Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Nominated

Grammy Hall of Fame

Year Title Genre Label Year Inducted
1967 "Alfie" pop (single) Scepter 2008
1962 "Don't Make Me Over" pop (single) Scepter 2000
1964 "Walk On By" pop (single) Scepter 1998

American Music Awards

Year Category Result
1987 Special Recognition Award: "That's What Friends Are For" Honoree

Billboard Music Awards

Year Category Result
1987 #1 Single of the Year: "That's What Friends Are For" Honoree


Year Category Result
1964 Songs of the Century: "Walk on By" Honoree
1985 Songs of the Century: "That's What Friends Are For"

People's Choice Awards

Year Category Result
1975 Favorite Female Singer Won

NAACP Image Awards

Year Category Result
1986 Entertainer of the Year[33] Honoree
1990 Key of Life Award[34][35] Honoree

ASCAP Awards

Year Category Result
1998 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree
2002 Heroes Award

Rhythm & Blues Foundation

Year Category Result
2003 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

Women's World Awards

Year Category Result
2004 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

Trumpet Awards

Year Category Result
2007 Trumpet Living Legend Award Honoree

Ride of Fame[36]

Year Category Result
2012 Immortal Honoree

Cash Box Magazine

Year Category Result
1964 Cash Box Magazine Awards
(Best Sellers)
#1 Female Vocalist Won
1966 #1 R&B Female Vocalist
#2 Pop Female Vocalist
1967 #2 Pop Vocalist, #2 R&B Vocalist
1969 #1 Female Vocalist — Albums and Singles
1969 Radio's Most Programmed Female Vocalist
  • National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) - Top Female Vocalist - 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971
  • National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame - Hitmaker Award - 2001
  • Woman of the Year - 1969 Harvard Hasty Pudding Society
  • Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Nominee - Slaves - 1969
  • Playboy Magazine Music Poll - Top Female Vocalist-1971
  • Playboy Magazine's All-Star Band for 1971 - Female Vocals
  • National Association of Television and Radio Announcers - #1 R&B Vocalist - 1971
  • Memphis Music Awards - Outstanding Female Vocalist - 1971
  • 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
  • ACE Award nominee for "Sisters in the Name of Love" - Dionne Warwick (HBO-1987)
  • United States Ambassador of Health - appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1987
  • Kleenex American Hero Award - 1987
  • American Society of Young Musicians - Luminary Award - 1997
  • National Music Foundation - Cultural Impact Award - 1998
  • United Nations Global Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) - appointed 2002
  • 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
  • Starlight Foundation - Humanitarian of the Year Award
  • Bella Rackoff Women in Film - Humanitarian Award
  • Lincoln Elementary School in East Orange, New Jersey, honored her by renaming it to the Dionne Warwick Institute of Economics and Entrepreneurship.
  • Howard Theatre Restoration Honoree - 2013 [37]


  • 1966: Live from the Olympia in Paris-Sacha Distel and Dionne Warwick - Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française
  • 1975: Dionne Warwick Live in Concert - nationally syndicated
  • 1975: Dionne Warwick: In Performance at Wolftrap - PBS
  • 1977: Dionne Warwick with the Edmonton Symphony - PBS
  • 1980: Dionne Warwick: Live at the Park West - HBO
  • 1982: Dionne Warwick: Live from Lake Tahoe - HBO
  • 1983: Dionne Warwick: Live at the Rialto - PBS
  • 1986: Sisters in the Name of Love - Dionne Warwick, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight
  • 1988: Dionne Warwick with the Boston Pops - PBS
  • 1988: Dionne Warwick: That's What Friends Are For Benefit Concert - HBO
  • 1988: Dionne Warwick Live in London - BBC
  • 1989: Dionne Warwick: Live in Australia - ABC
  • 1995: Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach - Live from the Rainbow Room - A & E Network
  • 2005: Prime Concerts: In Concert with Edmonton Symphony
  • 2007: Dionne Warwick — Live
  • 2008: Live in Cabaret July 18, 1975
As an actress
  • 1969: Slaves (film) - lead role - Cassy
  • 1970: The Name of the Game-I Love You Billy Baker-Part I
  • 1970: The Name of the Game-I Love You Billy Baker-Part II
  • 1971: The Love Machine (movie) - cameo appearance and performer (main theme singer -"He's Movin' On" and "Amanda")
  • 1976: Switch - Sherry (Season One)
  • 1977: Rockford Files (TV series) - Theda Moran
  • 1977: Switch - Sherry (Season 3)
  • 1977: Switch - Sherry - Part II
  • 1988: Rent-A-Cop (film) - Beth
  • 1991: Extralarge-Black and White (TV film)
  • 1991: Extralarge-Miami Killer (TV film)
  • 1991: Extralarge-Black Magic (TV film)
  • 1992: Extralarge-Cannonball (TV film)
  • 1992: Captain Planet and the Planeteers - Dr. Russell
  • 1996: The Wayans Bros. - Mrs. Jackson
  • 1998: The Bold and the Beautiful (1 episode)
  • 1998: The Wayans Bros. (1 episode)
  • 1999: Johnny Bravo (Season 2, Episode 3)
  • 1999: Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child - Miss Kitty
  • 2000: Walker, Texas Ranger (Season 8, Episode "Faith")
  • 2000: So Weird (Season 1, Episode 12 - "Lost")
Documentary film appearances
  • 1968: Dionne Warwick: Don't Make Me Over - documentary by Gary Keys'
  • 1977: The Day the Music Died
  • 2002: The Making and Meaning of We Are Family
  • 2001: The Teens Who Stole Popular Music - A & E Films
  • 2001: Don't Make Me Over: The Dionne Warwick Story - A & E Films
  • 2011: Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon
  • 2013: Voices of Love-Featuring Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick, Cissy Houston & The Drinkard Singers - documentary by Gary Keys
Compilations, series, and specials
  • 1969: Dionne Warwick: Souled Out - CBS Television with Warwick's guests Burt Bacharach, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Glen Campbell
  • 1970: An Evening with Burt Bacharach: Special Guest Dionne Warwick - NBC
  • 1973: The Midnight Special: Host - Dionne Warwick - NBC
  • 1974: The Dionne Warwick Special - nationally syndicated
  • 1975: Music Country USA-Host Dionne Warwick - NBC
  • 1976: The Original Rompin' Stompin', Hot & Heavy, Cool & Groovy All-Star Jazz Show - Host Dionne Warwick with Count Basie
  • 1979: Solid Gold Countdown 1979 - Hosts Dionne Warwick and Glen Campbell
  • 1980-1981 and 1985-1986: Solid Gold - Series Host
  • 2002: A Tribute to Burt Bacharach & Hal David
  • 2005: The 5th Dimension Travelling Sunshine Show
  • 2005: Straight from the Heart Live, Vol. 1
  • 2006: Flashbacks: Soul Sensations
  • 2006: Flashbacks: Pop Parade
  • 2008: Lost Concerts Series: Uptown Divas
  • 2011: The Celebrity Apprentice 4 - Contestant
  • 2018: The Four: Battle For Stardom - Cameo/Appearance, Warwick's Granddaughter "Cheyenne Elliot" performed for the Judges on the show.[38]

Dionne Warwick supports the following charitable causes: Children, Disaster Relief, AIDS, Hunger, Arts Education, Health Education, Cancer.

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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