Dionne Warwick (born Dec. 12, 1940) is an American soul-pop singer from East Orange, N.J., who rose to fame in the early 1960s with a string of ballads composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Her most popular songs from the period include “Walk On By,” “Don’t Make Me Over,” “Wishin’ and Hopin’,” “Make It Easy On Yourself,” “Any Old Time of the Day,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose.”
In 1979, she scored a comeback with the Barry Manilow-produced Dionne and the singles “Deja Vu” and “I’ll Never Love This Way Again.” She continued this success with the 1980–82 albums No Night So Long, Friends in Love, and the Barry Gibb-produced Heartbreaker. In 1985, she teamed with Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, and Elton John for a chart-topping rendition of the Bacharach/Carole Bayer Sager composition “That’s What Friends Are For,” released as Dionne & Friends for the benefit of AIDS research.
She was born Marie Dionne Warrick on December 12, 1940, in East Orange, N.J., the oldest of three children borne to Lee (née Drinkard, 1920–2005) and record promoter Mancel Warrick (1911–1977). She had a younger sister, singer Dee Dee Warwick (1942–2008), and a younger brother, Mancel Jr. (1947–1968).
Lee managed the Drinkard Sisters, a gospel group formed in 1938 as the Drinkard Quartet. They included her sisters Emily Drinkard (later known as Cissy Houston, mother of Whitney Houston) and Anne Drinkard-Moss, plus brothers Nick and Larry Drinkard. Lee herself eventually sang with the group, which issued the first gospel album on a major label, the 1959 RCA release A Joyful Noise.
In 1954, the Drinkard Sisters welcomed singer Judy Clay (b. 1938), an unofficial adoptee of the Warrick family. Later that decade, Dionne and Dee Dee got their starts in the group. Dionne, Dee Dee, and Cissy formed the Gospelaires, a gospel trio that often performed with the Drinkard’s.
After a double-bill at the Apollo Theatre in 1959, singers from both parties were summoned by an agent who needed backing vocalists for saxophonist Sam Taylor. The Gospelaires, along with Clay and singer Doris Troy, became the original Sweet Inspirations, a studio backing group that later recorded in their own right after Dionne and Dee Dee left for solo careers.
During their time as Sweet Inspirations, the sisters sang on recordings by The Drifters, Garnet Mimms, Ben E. King, Chuck Jackson, Dinah Washington, Ronnie “the Hawk” Hawkins, and Solomon Burke. Concurrently, Dionne attended the Hartt College of Music in West Hartford, Connecticut.
While recording backing vocals for “Mexican Divorce” by The Drifters, she caught the attention of the song’s writer, Burt Bacharach, who instantly recognized her charisma and star potential. He hired her to sing on his upcoming demos, which he would pitch to other labels. One demo, “It’s Love That Really Counts” (intended for The Shirelles) impressed Scepter Records president Florence Greenberg.
Dionne signed a production contract with Bacharach and his partner, lyricist Hal David. Greenberg signed her to Scepter, which issued her debut single, “Don’t Make Me Over,” in November 1962. The label had her surname misspelled as Warwick, which she decided to use professionally.
- Presenting Dionne Warwick (1963)
- Anyone Who Had a Heart (1964)
- Make Way for Dionne Warwick (1964)
- The Sensitive Sound of Dionne Warwick (1965)
- Here I Am (1965)
- Here Where There Is Love (1966)
- On Stage and in the Movies (1967)
- The Windows of the World (1967)
- The Magic of Believing (1968)
- Dionne Warwick in Valley of the Dolls (1968)
- Promises, Promises (1968)
- Soulful (1969)
- I’ll Never Fall in Love Again (1970)
- Very Dionne (1970)
- The Love Machine (OST, 1971)
- Dionne (1972)
- Just Being Myself (1973)
- Track of the Cat (1975)
- Then Came You (1975 • Dionne Warwicke)
- Love at First Sight (1977)
- Only Love Can Break a Heart (1977)
- A Man and a Woman (live, 1977 • Isaac Hayes & Dionne Warwick )
- Dionne (1979)
- No Night So Long (1980)
- Friends in Love (1982)
- Heartbreaker (1982)
- How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye (1983)
- The Woman in Red: Selections From… (OST, 1984 • Stevie Wonder & Dionne Warwick)
- Finder of Lost Loves (1985)
- Friends (1985)
- Reservations for Two (1987)
- Dionne Warwick Sings Cole Porter (1990)
- Friends Can Be Lovers (1993)
- Aquarela do Brasil (1994)
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