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Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick
@ Pigeon Island, St. Lucia Jazz Festival
11 May 2008

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Dionne Warwick has, over an illustrious four-decade career, established herself as an international musical legend. Her reputation as a hit maker has been firmly etched into public consciousness, thanks to nearly sixty charted hits since “Don't Make Me Over” began its climb up the charts in December 1962.

Dionne Warwick received her first Grammy Award in 1968 (for the classic “Do You Know The Way to San Jose?”), and in so doing became the first African-American solo female artist of her generation to win the prestigious award for Best Contemporary Female Vocal Performance. This award has only been awarded to one other female African-American legend, Ella Fitzgerald.

Dionne Warwick’s performance at the Olympia Theater in Paris, during a 1963 concert starring the legendary Marlene Dietrich, rocketed her to international stardom. As she was establishing herself as a major force in American contemporary music, she steadily gained in popularity among European audiences. Hits like “Anyone Who Had A Heart” and “Walk On By” brought successively larger visibility and success around the world. In 1968 she became the first African-American female performer to appear before the Queen of England at a Royal Command Performance. Since then, Warwick has performed before numerous kings, queens, presidents, and heads of state.

Warwick’s recordings of songs like “A House Is Not A home,” “Alfie,” “(Theme From) The Valley Of The Dolls,” and “The April Fools” made Dionne Warwick a pioneer as one of the first female artists to popularise classic movie themes. In 1968 Warwick made her own film debut in the movie “Slaves”. This marked the first time, since Lena Horne, that a contemporary African-American female recording artist achieved such a goal.

In recent years, Warwick's pioneering efforts have focused on leading the music industry in the fight against AIDS. Her Grammy-winning, chart topping, single “That's What Friends Are For,” lead the way by raising, literally, millions of dollars for AIDS research. Throughout the world, Warwick has devoted countless hours to a wide range of humanitarian causes, serving as the U.S. Ambassador for Health throughout the Eighties. On October 16, 2002 she was named a global Ambassador for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), based in Rome, Italy. Warwick has spearheaded the long overdue development and production of a history book that will detail African and African-American history for use in schools, libraries, and bookstores throughout the world. She continues her work as a socially conscious and concerned global citizen.

Dionne Warwick began singing during her childhood years in East Orange, New Jersey, initially in church. Occasionally she sang as a soloist and fill-in voice for the renowned Drinkard Singers, a group comprised of her mother Lee along with her aunts and uncles. During her teens, Dionne and sister Dee Dee started their own gospel group, The Gospelaires. It was while visiting the Drinkard Singers at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem that Warwick was asked to sing backup during a session for saxophonist Sam “The Man” Taylor. In February 1998, The Apollo Theater paid tribute to Warwick in a special event highlighting her constant support for the venue and her work as a music trailblazer.

While attending The Hartt College Of Music in Hartford, Connecticut, Warwick began making trips to do regular session work in New York. She sang behind many of the biggest starts of the 1960’s including Dinah Washington, Brook Benton, Chuck Jackson, and Solomon Burke to name a few. Once Burt Bacharach, composer, arranger, and producer heard her singing during a session for The Drifters, he asked her to sing on demos of songs he was writing with new partner Hal David. In 1962, Bacharach & David presented one such demo to Scepter Records. The label President, Florence Greenberg, did not want the song; she did, however, want the voice and Warwick began a hit-filled, twelve-year, association with the New York label. In all, Warwick, Burt, and Hal racked up thirty hit singles, and close to twenty best-selling albums, during their first decade together.

In 1970, Warwick received her second Grammy Award for the best-selling album “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” and she began her second decade of hits by signing with Warner Brothers Records.

In 1976, fresh from earning a Master's Degree in Music from her alma mater (The Hartt College of Music), Warwick signed with Arista Records, beginning a third decade of hit-making. Label-mate Barry Manilow produced her first Platinum-selling Grammy Award winning album, “Dionne.”

Further milestones marked Dionne's tenure with Arista. Her 1982 album, Heartbreaker, co-produced by Barry Gibb and The Bee Gees, became an international chart-topper. In 1985, Dionne reunited with producer Burt Bacharach, and longtime friends Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John to record the classic “That's What Friends Are For.” Profits from the sale of that song were donated to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR). In 1990 she joined forces with a number of Arista label-mates to raise over $2.5 Million for various AIDS organizations during the star-studded “That's What Friends Are For” Benefit at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

Warwick’s album “Friends” achieved Gold status. Throughout the Eighties she collaborated with many of her musical peers, including Johnny Mathis, Smokey Robinson, Luther Vandross and others. Dionne worked with Stevie Wonder as music coordinator for the film and Academy Award winning soundtrack album The Woman In Red. She was one of the key participants in the all-star charity single “We Are The World” and, in 1984 she performed at “Live Aid”.

In addition to co-hosting and helping to launch “The Soul Train Music Awards”, she also starred in her own show, “Dionne And Friends.” She was co-executive producer of “Celebrate The Soul Of American Music” which honoured and recognised many of her fellow musical pioneers. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Warwick toured extensively with Burt Bacharach.

Warwick’s recent activities have included the creation of Carr/Todd/Warwick Production, Inc. The goal of the organisation is to produce television and film projects. For the past fifteen years she has worked tirelessly as the co-founder of the Dionne Warwick Design Group, Inc. With partner Bruce Garrick, Warwick has been responsible for designing numerous international projects ranging from private estates to world-class hotels which, she notes, are “all affordable!”

Warwick continues to work tirelessly with various organisations dedicated to empowering and inspiring others. In 1997 she was awarded the “Luminary Award” by the American Society of Young Musicians. That same year she joined General Colin Powell in celebrating the tenth anniversary of the “Best Friends” Program, an abstinence and character-building program for young women. Warwick’s East Orange New Jersey Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary, honoured her by renaming it “The Dionne Warwick Institute of Economics and Entrepreneurship.” Displaying her own business skills, Warwick plans to reactivate her skin care regimen and fragrance in 2003.

In early 1998, the National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM) gave Warwick the Chairman's Award for Sustained Creative Achievement. In November 2001, the History Makers Organization of Chicago named her “History Maker”. 2002 was a special year for Warwick; she was honoured by the American Red Ribbon AIDS Foundation; in October she was named FAO Ambassador of the United Nations; in December she was honoured by The Recording Academy with the 2002 New York Chapter’s Heroes Award and she appeared (for the fourth time) on the Vatican’s Christmas Concert. In 2003, she received a lifetime achievement award from the R&B Foundation, and she was selected as one of the 2003 Top Faces of Black History.

Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick



Legends My favourite time of  year Sings Cole Porter
Track of the Cat Heartbreaker Sings Dionne The Woman in Red Soundtrack
Friends Love at First Sight Then Came You Aquarela Do Brasil
How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye All Time Greatest Hits Very Dionne Why We Sing

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