Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 12: Dionne Warwick "Walk on By," "Don't Make me Over" is 73-years-old today.

Warwick was born Marie Dionne Warrick in East Orange, New Jersey in 1940. Dionne's career as a singer was almost inevitable considering her family background. Dionne's mother, aunts and uncles were members of a renowned gospel group known as the Drinkard Singers that frequently performed throughout the New York area.

Dionne began singing gospel as a child at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. She performed her first gospel solo at the age of six and frequently joined The Drinkard Singers (which included her aunt Cissy" (who is the mother of Warwick's cousin, Whitney Houston). Her first televised performances were in the mid-and late 1950s with the Drinkard Singers on local television stations in New Jersey and New York City.

Warwick graduated from East Orange High School in 1958 and was awarded a Scholarship in Music Education to the Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. Dionne earned a Doctorate of Music Education from the college in 1973.

Also, in 1958, Warwick, Myrna Utley, Carol Slade, and Warwick's sister Delia, who by this time had begun to be known professionally as Dee Dee Warwick, formed their own group, which they called called "The Gospelaires." Their first performance together was at the world famous Apollo Theater, where they won the weekly amateur contest.

The Gospelaires eventually became the recording group the Sweet Inspirations, which had minor chart success but were much sought-after as studio background singers for other artists including The Drifters, Ben E. King, Chuck Jackson, Dinah Washington, Solomon Burke, Garnet Mims, Jerry Butler, Aretha Franklin, and Elvis Presley - and later on Dionne's recordings.

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While she was performing background on The Drifters's 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.

During the session, Bacharach asked Warwick if she would be interested in recording demonstration recordings of his compositions to be used 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 Scepter Records President Florence Greenberg. Greenberg, according to Current Biography 1969 Yearbook, told Bacharach, "Forget the song, get the girl!"

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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.

Her fourth single, "Anyone Who Had a Heart," released in December 1963, was Warwick's first top 10 pop hit in the U.S. and also an international hit. 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 US and Canadian charts, and much of Warwick's output from 1962-1971 was written and produced by the Bacharach/David team.

Warwick was named the Bestselling Female Vocalist in the Cash Box Magazine Poll in 1964, with six chart hits in that year. Cash Box also 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.

In 1985, Warwick sang on the multi-Grammy Award winning charity song "We Are the World."
For more about Dionne, visit her Website at-


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