Dionne Warwick is a famous American singer and actress. Best known for her partnership with the pianist, composer, and producer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David, Warwick ranks among the top forty rock artists, according to Billboard’s Hot 100 Pop Singles Charts. Warwick is also known for her social endeavors; she has served as a United Nations Global Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization and as a United States Ambassador of Health.
Dionne Warwick was born Marie Dionne Warrick was born on December 12, 1940 in East Orange, New Jersey into a musical family. Her father, Mancel Warrick was originally a chef but then became a promoter for a gospel record label called Chess Records. Dionne Warwick’s mother, Lee Drinkard Warrick, managed their family’s gospel group, The Drinkard Singers, which included Dionne’s aunts and uncles.
Upon graduating from high school in East Orange, Warwick received a scholarship to attend the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut, where she studied music education. She later received a Doctorate of Music Education from the same school. During the her time in college, Warwick performed with Myrna Utley, Carol Slade, and her sister Delia “Deedee”, in a group called “The Gospelaires.” The women eventually performed background lyrics for New York recording artists including Garnet Mims, Jerry Butler, Aretha Franklin, and Elvis Presley.
In the early 1960s, Burt Bacharach, a New York City composer, pianist and producer heard Warwick singing in a recording session for The Drifters. Impressed with Warwick’s voice, Bacharach asked her to sing demos of songs the composer wrote with his new partner and lyricist, Hal David. In 1962, Bacharach, David, and Warwick signed a contract with Scepter Records, and released dozens of hit singles and best-selling albums.
In 1971, Warwick left Scepter Records for Warner Brothers Records, and released Dionne, which placed on the Billboard Hot 100 Album Chart. Later, in 1976 with Arista Records, Warwick released a second album Dionne, which reached Platinum record status. With this record, Warwick was the first female artist to win Grammy Awards for the Best Female Pop and Best Female R&B Performance, for the songs “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” and “Déjà Vu.”
In the 1980s and 90s, Warwick continued to perform and record, both as a soloist and with artists including Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Smokey Robinson and countless other singers. She has participated in many humanitarian efforts, including raising millions of dollars for AIDS research, and has served the United Nations and the United States Government. In addition to numerous Grammy awards, she has received high honors and awards from the NAACP, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and the National Music Foundation.