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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dionne Warwick, Birthday Girl

Second to Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick is the most-charted female vocalist of all time with 56 singles making the Billboard Top 100 between 1962 and 1998. Born and raised in East Orange, NJ, to a musical family, she is cousin to the late Whitney Houston. Cissy Houston is her aunt. Her sister, Dee Dee Warwick, was a recording artist as well.

Warwick (born Marie Dionne Warrick) rose to fame when she was signed to Burt Bacharach's and Hal David's production company for Sceptor Records in 1962. They created a string of hits and timeless pop classics together, starting with "Don't Make Me Over" and included "Walk On By, "Anyone Who Had a Heart," "Do You Know The Way to San Jose?," "Always Something There to Remind Me," "Message to Michael," "I Say a Little Prayer," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" and several others.

When Judy Garland was fired from the set of Valley of the Dolls, Dionne Warwick stepped in to record the film's theme song, written by Andre and Dory Previn. Released as the B-side to the 45 "I Say a Little Prayer," dj's made both sides hits over the radio in 1968.

According to Wikipedia: Warwick, for years an aficionado of psychic phenomena, was advised by astrologer Linda Goodman in 1971 to add a small "e" to her last name, making Warwick "WARWICKe" for good luck and to recognize her married name and her spouse, actor and drummer William "Bill" Elliott. Goodman convinced Warwick that the extra small "e" would add a vibration needed to balance her last name and bring her even more good fortune in her marriage and her professional life. Unfortunately, Goodman proved to be mistaken about this. The extra "e," according to Dionne, "was the worst thing I could have done in retrospect, and in 1975 I finally got rid of that damn 'e' and became 'Dionne Warwick' again."

After a litigious break-up with Burt Bacharach  and Hal David, Dionne moved to the Warner Bros. label, where she had one hit, with The Spinners, in 1974: "Then Came You." She then signed on with Clive Davis at Arista Records and had a fresh string of hits. In 1979, Barry Manilow produced the album, Dionne, which yielded the smash singles "I'll Never Love This Way Again" and "Deja Vu."

Throughout the 1980s, Warwick continued to have success with songs like "Hearbreaker" produced by The Bee Gees and "How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye?" produced by Luther Vandross, both under the auspices of Clive Davis/Arista. In 1985, Warwick recorded the AmFAR benefit single "That's What Friends Are For" with Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.

In the 1990s, Dionne Warwick became a spokesperson for the Psychic Friends Network. The network ultimately declared bankruptcy and she thusly ended her association with it. In a 2002 interview with tv's Biography Channel, her manager said that "when Dionne was going through an airport and a child recognized her as 'that psychic lady on TV' Dionne was crushed and said she had worked too hard as an entertainer to become known as 'the psychic lady'."

The diva, a long-time smoker, began to suffer vocally in the 21st Century, though she still occasionally tours and performs. In March 2013, Warwick declared bankruptcy due to mismanagement of her business affairs, owing approximately $7 million to the IRS for the years 1991 to 1999 and more than $3 million in business taxes owed the state of California.

Dionne Warwick most recently received a 2014 Grammy nomination for her 2013 album release, Now. She turns 73 today.






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