Dionne Warwick (born Marie Dionne Warrick; December 12, 1940) is an American singer, actress and TV show host, who became a United Nations Global Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization, and a United States Ambassador of Health.
Having been in a partnership with songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Warwick ranks among the 40 biggest hit makers of the entire rock era (1955–2012), based on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Charts. Dionne Warwick is second only to Aretha Franklin as the most-charted female vocalist of all time with 56 of Dionne's singles making the Billboard Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998.
Warwick was born in East Orange, New Jersey, to Mancel Warrick (1911–1977), who began his career as a Pullman porter and subsequently became a chef, a gospel record promoter forChess Records and later a Certified Public Accountant; and Lee Drinkard Warwick (1920–2005), manager of The Drinkard Singers (see below). Warwick had a sister Delia "Dee Dee" and a brother, Mancel Jr., who was killed in an accident in 1968 at the age of 21. She has African American, Native American, Brazilian and Dutch ancestry.
Dionne came from a family of singers. Dionne's mother, aunts and uncles were members of the Drinkard Singers, a renowned family gospel group and RCA recording artists that frequently performed throughout the New York metropolitan area. The Drinkard family originated from Blakley, Georgia and migrated to Newark, New Jersey in 1923. The family was composed of Nitcholas "Nitch" Drinkard, and Delia Drinkard, Warwick's grandparents, and their children: William, Lee (Warwick's mother), Marie "Rebbie" (Warwick's namesake), Hansom, Anne, Larry, Nicky, and Emily "Cissy" (who is the mother of Warwick's cousin, Whitney Houston). Dionne's paternal grandfather, Elzae Warrick was the preacher at St. Luke's AME, the church attended by the Drinkard family. Lee Drinkard and the preacher's son, Mancel, were later married and Dionne became the Drinkard family's first grandchild on December 12, 1940.
The original Drinkard Singers (known as the Drinkard Jubilairs) consisted of Cissy, Anne, Larry, and Nicky. Marie instructed the group and they were managed by Lee. As they became more successful, Lee and Marie also began performing with the group, and they were augmented by Judy Guoins, later known as pop/R&B singer Judy Clay, whom Lee had unofficially adopted. Elvis Presley eventually expressed an interest in having them join his touring entourage. 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.
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 grew up in a racially mixed middle-class neighborhood. She stated in an interview on The Biography Channel in 2002 that the neighborhood in East Orange "was literally the United Nations of neighborhoods. We had every nationality, every creed, every religion right there on our street." Warwick was untouched by the harsher aspects of racial intolerance and discrimination until her early professional career, when she began touring nationally.
Warwick graduated from East Orange High School in 1959 and was awarded a scholarship in Music Education to the Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut (from which she earned a masters degree and which would later award her an honorary doctorate in Music Education in 1973). In My Life, as I See It: An Autobiography, Warwick lists her honorary doctorate from Hartt among those awarded by six other institutions:
- Hartt College Honorary
- Bethune-Cookman University
- Shaw University
- American Bar Association
- Columbia College of Chicago
- Lincoln College
- University of Maryland Eastern Shore
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 "The Gospelaires." Their first performance together was at the Apollo Theater, where they won the weekly amateur contest. Various other singers joined The Gospelaires from time to time, including Judy Clay, Cissy Houston, and Doris Troy, whose chart selection "Just One Look," when she recorded it in 1963, featured backing vocals from the Gospelaires.
After various personnel changes (Dionne and Doris left the group after achieving solo success), The Gospelaires eventually became the recording group, the Sweet Inspirations, which had some chart success, but were much sought-after as studio background singers. The Gospelaires and later the Sweet Inspirations performed on many records cut in New York City for artists such as Garnet Mimms, The Drifters, Jerry Butler, Solomon Burke and later Dionne's recordings, Aretha Franklin, and Elvis Presley.
Warwick recalled, in her 2002 A&E Biography, that "a man came running frantically backstage at The Apollo and said he needed background singers for a session for Sam 'The Man' Taylor and old big-mouth here spoke up and said 'We'll do it!' and we left and did the session. I wish I remembered the gentleman's name because he was responsible for the beginning of my professional career."
The backstage encounter led to the group being asked to sing background sessions at recording studios in New York. Soon, the group was in demand in New York music circles for their background work for such artists as The Drifters,Ben E. King, Chuck Jackson, Dinah Washington, Ronnie "The Hawk" Hawkins, and Solomon Burke among many others. Warwick remembered, in her A&E Biography, that after school, they would catch a bus from East Orange to the Port Authority Terminal, and then subway to recording studios in Manhattan, perform their background gigs and be back at home in East Orange in time to do their school homework. The background vocal work would continue while Warwick pursued her studies at Hartt.
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. According to a July 14, 1967, article on Warwick from Time, Bacharach stated, "She has a tremendous strong side and a delicacy when singing softly — like miniature ships in bottles." Musically, she was "no play-safe girl. What emotion I could get away with!" And what complexity, compared with the usual run of pop songs.
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!"
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. The partnership would provide Bacharach with the freedom to produce Warwick without the control of recording company executives and company A&R men. Warwick's musical ability and education would also allow Bacharach to compose more challenging tunes. The demo version of "It's Love That Really Counts", along with her original demo of "Make It Easy on Yourself", would surface on Dionne's debut Scepter album, titled Presenting Dionne Warwick, which was released early in 1963.
In November 1962, Scepter Records released her first solo single, "Don't Make Me Over", the title (according to the A&E Biography of Dionne Warwick) Warwick supplied herself when she snapped the phrase at producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David in anger. Warwick had found out that "Make It Easy on Yourself" — a song on which she had recorded the original demo and had wanted to be her first single release — had been given to another artist, Jerry Butler. From the phrase "don't make me over", Bacharach and David created their first top 40 pop hit (#21) and a top 5 U.S. R&B hit. Warrick's name was misspelled on the single's label, and she began using the new spelling (i.e., "Warwick") both professionally and personally. According to the July 14, 1967 Time magazine article, after "Don't Make Me Over" hit in 1962, she answered the call of her manager ("C'mon, baby, you gotta go"), left school and went on a tour of France, where critics crowned her "Paris' Black Pearl," having been introduced on stage at Paris Olympia that year by Marlene Dietrich. Rhapsodized Jean Monteaux in Arts: "The play of this voice makes you think sometimes of an eel, of a storm, of a cradle, a knot of seaweed, a dagger. It is not a voice so much as an organ. You could write fugues for Warwick's voice."
The two immediate follow-ups to "Don't Make Me Over" — "This Empty Place" (with "B" Side "Wishin' and Hopin'" later covered by Dusty Springfield) and "Make The Music Play" — charted briefly in the top 100. Her fourth single, "Anyone Who Had a Heart," released in December 1963, was Warwick's first top 10 pop hit (#8) in the U.S. and also an international million seller. 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 U.S. and Canadian charts, and much of Warwick's output from 1962 to 1971 was written and produced by the Bacharach/David team.
Warwick weathered the British Invasion better than most American artists. Her UK hits were most notably "Walk On By" and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" In the UK, a number of Bacharach-David-Warwick songs were covered by British singers Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield, most notably Black's "Anyone Who Had a Heart" which went to No. 1 in the UK. This upset Warwick and she has described feeling insulted when told that in the UK, record company executives wanted her songs recorded by someone else. Warwick even met Cilla Black while on tour in Britain. She recalled what she said to her: "I told her that "You're My World" would be my next single in the States. I honestly believe that if I'd sneezed on my next record, then Cilla would have sneezed on hers too. There was no imagination in her recording." "You're My World" — recorded in no time by Black — was not released as a single by Warwick, but it did appear on a later album, Dionne Warwick in Valley of the Dolls, released in 1968.
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. Playboy's influential Music Poll of 1970 named her the Top Female Vocalist. In 1969, Harvard's Hasty Pudding Society named her Woman of the Year.
In a May 21, 1965 Time Magazine cover article entitled "The Sound of the Sixties," Dionne Warwick's sound was described as follows: "Swinging World. Scholarly articles probe the relationship between the Beatles and the nouvelle vague films of Jean-Luc Godard, discuss 'the brio and elegance' of Dionne Warwick's singing style as a 'pleasurable but complex' event to be 'experienced without condescension.' In chic circles, anyone damning rock 'n' roll is labeled not only square but uncultured. For inspirational purposes, such hip artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers and Andy Warholoccasionally paint while listening to rock 'n' roll music. Explains Warhol: 'It makes me mindless, and I paint better.' After gallery openings in Manhattan, the black-tie gatherings often adjourn to a discotheque."
Mid-1960s to early 1970s
The mid-1960s to early 1970s became an even more successful time period for Warwick, who saw a string of Gold selling albums and Top 20 and Top 10 hit singles. "Message to Michael", a Bacharach-David composition that the duo was certain was a "man's song", became a top 10 hit for Warwick in May 1966. The January 1967 LP Here Where There Is Love was her first RIAA certified Gold Album and featured "Alfie", and two 1966 hits: "Trains and Boats and Planes" and "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself". "Alfie" had become a radio hit when disc jockeys across the nation began to play the album cut early in 1967. "Alfie" was released as the "B" side of a Bacharach/David ballad, "The Beginning of Loneliness" in which charted in the Hot 100. Disc jockeys flipped the single and made it a double-sided hit. Bacharach had been contracted to produce "Alfie" for the Michael Caine film of the same name and wanted Dionne Warwick to sing the tune but the British producers wanted a British subject to cut the tune. Cilla Black was selected to record the song, and her version peaked at #95 upon its release in the USA. A cover version by Cher used in the USA prints of the film peaked at #33. In the UK and Australia, Black's version was a Top 10 hit. In a 1983 concert appearance televised on PBS, Warwick states she was the 43rd person to record "Alfie," at Bacharach's insistence, who felt Dionne could make it a big hit. Warwick, at first, balked at recording the tune and asked Bacharach "How many more versions of Alfie do you need?" to which Bacharach replied "Just one more, yours." Bacharach took Warwick into the studio with his new arrangement and cut the tune the way he wanted it to be, which she nailed in one take. Warwick's version peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on both the R&B Chart and the AC Charts. Warwick performed the song at the Academy Awards in 1967. Today, "Alfie" is considered a signature song for Warwick.
Later that same year, Warwick earned her first RIAA Gold Single for U.S. sales of over one million units for the single "I Say a Little Prayer" (from her album The Windows of the World). When disc jockeys across the nation began to play the track from the album in the fall of 1967 and demanded its release as a single, Florence Greenberg, President of Scepter Records, complied and "I Say a Little Prayer" became Warwick's biggest U.S. hit to that point, reaching #4 on the U.S. and Canadian Charts and # 8 on the R & B Charts. The tune was also the first RIAA certified USA million seller for Bacharach-David. Aretha Franklin would later cover the tune, reaching #10 on the US Charts.
Her follow-up to "I Say a Little Prayer," "(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls," was unusual in several respects. It was not written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, it was the "B" side of her "I Say a Little Prayer" single, and it was a song that she almost didn't record. While the film version of Valley of the Dolls was being made, actress Barbara Parkins suggested that Warwick be considered to sing the film's theme song, written by songwriting team Andre and Dory Previn. The song was to be recorded by Judy Garland, who was subsequently fired from the film. Warwick performed the song, and when the film became a success in the early weeks of 1968, disc jockeys flipped the single and made the single one of the biggest double-sided hits of the rock era and another million seller. At the time, RIAA rules allowed only one side of a double-sided hit single to be certified as Gold, but Scepter awarded Warwick an "in-house award" to recognize "(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls" as a million selling tune.
Warwick had re-recorded a Pat Williams-arranged version of the theme at A&R Studios in New York because contractual restrictions with her label would not allow the Warwick version from the film to be included in the 20th Century Foxsoundtrack LP, and reverse legal restrictions would not allow the film version to be used anyplace else in a commercial LP. The LP Dionne Warwick in Valley of the Dolls, released in early 1968 and containing the re-recorded version of the movie theme (#2–4 weeks), "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" and several new Bacharach-David compositions, hit the #6 position on the Billboard Hot 100 Album Chart and would remain on the chart for over a year. The film soundtrack LP, without Warwick vocals, failed to impress the public, while Dionne Warwick in Valley of the Dolls earned an RIAA Gold certification.
The single "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?", an international million seller and a Top 10 hit in several countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Japan and Mexico, was also a double sided hit with the "B" side "Let Me Be Lonely" charting at #79.
More hits followed into 1971, including "Who Is Gonna Love Me" (#32, 1968) with "B" side, "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" becoming another double-sided hit; "Promises, Promises" (#19, 1968); "This Girl's in Love with You" (#7, 1969); "The April Fools" (#37, 1969); "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (#15, 1969); "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" (#6, 1969); "Make It Easy on Yourself" (#37, 1970); "Who Is Gonna Love Me" (#33, 1968); "Let Me Go to Him" (#32, 1970); and "Paper Mache" (#43, 1970). Warwick's final Bacharach/David penned single was March 1971's "Who Gets the Guy", and her final "official" Scepter single release was "He's Moving On" b/w "Amanda", both from the soundtrack of the motion picture adaptation of Jacqueline Susann's The Love Machine.
Warwick had become the priority act of Scepter Records, according to the website "The Scepter Records Story" and producer/A&R chief, Luther Dixon in a 2002 A&E Biography of Burt Bacharach, with the release of "Anyone Who Had a Heart" in 1963. Other Scepter LPs certified RIAA Gold include Dionne Warwick's Golden Hits Part 1 released in 1967 and The Dionne Warwicke Story: A Decade of Gold released in 1971. By the end of 1971, Dionne Warwick had sold an estimated thirty-five million singles and albums internationally in less than nine years and more than 16 million singles in the USA alone. Exact figures of Warwick's sales are unknown and probably underestimated, due to Scepter Records apparently lax accounting policies and the company policy of not submitting recordings for RIAA audit. Dionne Warwick became the first Scepter artist to request RIAA audits of her recordings in 1967 with the release of "I Say a Little Prayer."
On Wednesday, September 17, 1969, CBS Television aired Dionne Warwick's first television special entitled "The Dionne Warwick Chevy Special." Dionne's guests were Burt Bacharach, George Kirby, Glen Campbell, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
In 1971, Dionne Warwick left the family atmosphere of Scepter Records for Warner Bros. Records, for a $5 million contract, the most lucrative recording contract ever given to a female vocalist up to that time, according to Variety.Warwick's last LP for Scepter was the aforementioned soundtrack for the motion picture The Love Machine (in which she appeared in an uncredited cameo), released in July 1971. In 1975, Bacharach and David sued Scepter Records for an accurate accounting of royalties due the team from their recordings with Warwick and labelmate B.J. Thomas. They were awarded almost $600,000 and the rights to all Bacharach/David recordings on the Scepter label. The label, with the defection of Warwick to Warner Bros. Records, filed for bankruptcy in 1975 and was sold to Springboard International Records in 1976.
Following her signing with Warners, with Bacharach and David as writers and producers, Dionne returned to New York City's A&R Studios in late 1971 to begin recording her first album for the new label, the self-titled album Dionne (not to be confused with her later Arista debut album) in January 1972. The album peaked at #57 on the Billboard Hot 100 Album Chart. In 1972, Burt Bacharach and Hal David scored and wrote the tunes for the motion picture Lost Horizon.But the film was panned by the critics, and in the fallout from the film, the songwriting duo decided to terminate their working relationship. The break-up left Dionne devoid of their services as her producers and songwriters. Dionne was contractually obligated to fulfill her contract with Warners without Bacharach and David and she would team with a variety of producers during her tenure with the label.
Faced with the prospect of being sued by Warner Bros. Records due to the breakup of Bacharach/David and their failure to honor their contract with Dionne, she filed a $5.5 million lawsuit against her former partners for breach of contract. The suit was settled out of court in 1979 for $5 million including the rights to all Warwick recordings produced by Bacharach and David.
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."
Warner era (1972–1978)
Without the guidance and songwriting that Bacharach/David had provided, Warwick's career stalled in the 1970s. There were no big hits during the decade aside from 1974's "Then Came You", recorded as a duet with the Spinners and produced by Thom Bell. Bell later noted, "Dionne made a (strange) face when we finished [the song]. She didn't like it much, but I knew we had something. So we ripped a dollar in two, signed each half and exchanged them. I told her, 'If it doesn't go number one, I'll send you my half.' When it took off, Dionne sent hers back. There was an apology on it." It was her first U.S. #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Other than this success, Warwick's five years on Warner Bros. Records produced no other major hits. Two notable songs recorded during this period were "His House and Me" and "Once You Hit The Road" (#79 pop, #5 R&B, #22 Adult Contemporary) — both of which were produced in 1975 by Thom Bell.
Warwick recorded five albums with Warners: Dionne (1972), produced by Bacharach and David and a modest chart success; Just Being Myself (1973), produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland;Then Came You (1975), produced by Jerry Ragovoy; Track of the Cat (1975), produced by Thom Bell; and Love at First Sight (1977), produced by Steve Barri and Michael Omartian. The singer's five-year contract with Warners expired in 1977, and with that, Warwick ended her stay at the label.
The 1980s: Move to Arista
With the move to Arista Records and the release of her RIAA certified million seller "I'll Never Love This Way Again" in 1979, Dionne was again enjoying top success on the charts. The song was produced by Barry Manilow. The accompanying album, Dionne, was certified Platinum in the United States for sales exceeding one million units. The album peaked at #12 on the Billboard Album Chart and made the Top 10 of the Billboard R&B Albums Chart. Warwick had been personally signed and guided by the label's founder Clive Davis, who stated to Dionne "You may be ready to give the business up, but the business is not ready to give you up." Dionne's next single release was another major hit for her. "Deja Vu" was co-written by Isaac Hayes and hit #1 Adult Contemporary as well as #15 on Billboard's Hot 100. In 1980, Dionne won the NARAS Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for "I'll Never Love This Way Again" andBest R&B Vocal Performance, Female for "Déjà Vu". Dionne became the first female artist in the history of the awards to win in both categories the same year. Her second Arista album, 1980'sNo Night So Long sold 500,000 U.S. copies and featured the title track which became a major success — hitting #1 Adult Contemporary and #23 on Billboard's Hot 100 — and the album peaked at #23 on the Billboard Albums Chart.
In January 1980, while under contract to Arista Records, Dionne Warwick hosted a two-hour TV special called Solid Gold '79. This was adapted into the weekly one-hour show Solid Gold, which she hosted throughout 1980 and 1981 and again in 1985-86. Major highlights of each show were the duets she performed with her co-hosts, which often included some of Dionne's hits and her co-hosts' hits intermingled and arranged by Solid Gold musical director, Michael Miller. Another highlight in each show was Dionne's vocal rendition of the Solid Gold Theme, composed by Michael Miller (with lyrics by Dean Pitchford).
After a brief appearance in the Top Forty in early 1982 with Johnny Mathis on "Friends in Love" — from the album of the same name — Warwick's next hit later that same year was her full-length collaboration with Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees for the album Heartbreaker. The song became one of Dionne's biggest international hits, returning her to the Top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 as well as #1 Adult Contemporary and No. 2 in both Great Britain and Australia. Internationally, the tune was also a Top 10 hit throughout continental Europe, Australia (#1), Japan, South Africa, Canada and Asia. The title track was taken from the album of the same name which sold over 3 million copies internationally and earned Dionne an RIAA USA Gold record award for the album. In Britain, the disc was certified Platinum. Dionne later stated to Wesley Hyatt in his 'Billboard Book of Number One Adult Contemporary Hits' that she was not initially fond of "Heartbreaker" but recorded the tune because she trusted the Bee Gees' judgment that it would be a hit. The project came about when Clive Davis was attending his aunt's wedding in Orlando, Florida in early 1982 and spoke with Barry Gibb. Barry mentioned that he had always been a fan of Dionne's and Clive arranged for Dionne and the Bee Gees to discuss a project. Dionne and the brothers Gibb obviously hit it off as both the album and the title single were released in October 1982 to massive success.
In 1983, Dionne released How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye produced by Luther Vandross. The album's most successful single was the title track, "How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye", a Warwick/Vandross duet, which peaked at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also became a Top 10 hit on the Adult Contemporary and R&B charts. The album peaked at #57 on the Billboard album chart. Of note was a reunion with the original Shirelles on Warwick's cover of "Will You (Still) Love Me Tomorrow?" The album Finder Of Lost Loves followed in 1984 and reunited her with both Barry Manilow and Burt Bacharach, who was writing with his then current lyricist partner and wife, Carole Bayer Sager.
In 1985, Warwick contributed her voice to the multi-Grammy Award winning charity song We Are the World, along with vocalists like Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and Ray Charles. The song spent four consecutive weeks at #1 onBillboard's Hot 100 chart. It was the year's biggest hit — certified four times Platinum in the United States alone.
In 1985, Warwick recorded the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR) benefit single "That's What Friends Are For" alongside Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder. The single, credited to "Dionne and Friends" was released in October and eventually raised over three million dollars for that cause. The tune was a triple #1 — R&B, Adult Contemporary, and four weeks at the summit on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1986 — selling close to two million 45s in the United States alone. In 1988, the Washington Post wrote: "So working against AIDS, especially after years of raising money for work on many blood-related diseases such as sickle-cell anemia, seemed the right thing to do. You have to be granite not to want to help people with AIDS, because the devastation that it causes is so painful to see. I was so hurt to see my friend die with such agony", Warwick remembers. "I am tired of hurting and it does hurt."The single won the performers the NARAS Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, as well as Song of the Year for its writers, Bacharach and Bayer Sager. It also was ranked by Billboard magazine as the most popular song of 1986. With this single Warwick also released her most successful album of the 1980s, titled Friends, which reached #12 on Billboard's album chart.
In 1987 Dionne scored another hit with "Love Power". Her eighth career #1 Adult Contemporary hit, it also reached #5 in R&B and #12 on Billboard's Hot 100. A duet with Jeffrey Osborne, it was also written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, and it was featured in Warwick's album Reservations for Two. The album's title song, a duet with Kashif, was also a chart hit. Other artists featured on the album included Smokey Robinson and June Pointer.
1990s to present
During the 1990s, Warwick hosted infomercials for the Psychic Friends Network, which featured psychic Linda Georgian. The 900 number psychic service was active from 1991 to 1998. According to press statements throughout the 1990s, the program was the most successful infomercial for several years and Warwick earned in excess of three million dollars per year as spokesperson for the network. In 1998, Inphomation, the corporation owning the network, filed for bankruptcy and Warwick ended her association with the organisation. Warwick's longtime friend and tour manager Henry Carr acknowledged in a 2002 Biography Channel interview 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'."
Warwick's most publicized album during this period was 1993's "Friends Can Be Lovers", which was produced in part by Ian Devaney and Lisa Stansfield. Featured on the album was "Sunny Weather Lover", which was the first song thatBurt Bacharach and Hal David had written together for Warwick since 1972. It was Warwick's lead single in the United States, and was heavily promoted by Arista, but failed to chart. A follow-up "Where My Lips Have Been" peaked at #95 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. 1994 marked the end of Warwick's contract with Arista Records.
In 1990 Dionne recorded a song "It's All Over" with former member of Modern Talking Dieter Bohlen (Blue System). The single peaked at #60 (#33 airplay) on the German pop charts and it appears on Blue System's album "Déjà Vu".
In 1993, Forrest Sawyer, host of the ABC News/Entertainment program "Day One", alleged financial improprieties by the Warwick Foundation, founded in 1989 to benefit AIDS patients, particularly Dionne Warwick's charity concert performances organized to benefit the organization. ABC alleged the Foundation was operating at a near 90% administrative cost. ABC also alleged that Warwick flew first class and was accommodated at first class hotels for charity concerts and events in which she participated for the Foundation. Warwick, who had no executive, administrative or management role in the organization, challenged ABC to investigate the foundation further and alleged that the ABC report was racially motivated. An Internal Revenue Service investigation of the Warwick Foundation found no wrongdoing or criminal activity on the part of the Board of Directors or Warwick and its status as a non-profit charity was upheld. ABC maintained the report to be factually correct but the item has not been repeated since the original air date. The Foundation was later dissolved.
In 2004, Dionne Warwick's first Christmas album was released. The CD, entitled "My Favorite Time of the Year" featured jazzy interpretations of many holiday classics. In 2007, Rhino Records re-released the CD with new cover art.
In 2005, Dionne Warwick was honored by Oprah Winfrey at her Legends Ball.
Warwick appeared on the May 24, 2006, fifth-season finale of American Idol. Millions of U.S. viewers watched Warwick sing a medley of "Walk On By" and "That's What Friends Are For", with longtime collaborator Burt Bacharachaccompanying her on the piano.
In 2006, Warwick signed with Concord Records after a fifteen-year tenure at Arista, which had ended in 1994. Her first and only release for the label was My Friends and Me, a duets album containing reworkings of her old hits, very similar in fashion to her 1998 CD "Dionne Sings Dionne" . Among her singing partners were Gloria Estefan, Olivia Newton-John, Wynonna Judd and Reba McEntire. The album peaked at #66 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album was produced by her son, Damon Elliott. A follow-up album featuring Warwick's old hits as duets with male vocalists was planned but the project was cancelled. The relationship with Concord concluded with the release of My Friends and Me.
A compilation CD of her greatest hits and love songs "The Love Collection" entered the UK pop charts at number 27 on February 16, 2008.
Dionne Warwick's second gospel album, "Why We Sing", was released on February 26, 2008 in the UK and on April 1, 2008 in the USA. The album features guest spots by her sister Dee Dee Warwick and BeBe Winans.
On October 18, 2008, Warwick's sister Dee Dee Warwick died in a nursing home in Essex County, New Jersey. She had been in failing health for several months, which lead up to her death. Warwick was with her sister Dee Dee, when she died.
In 2008 Dionne began recording an album of songs from the Sammy Cahn and Jack Wolf songbooks. The finished recording, entitled Only Trust Your Heart, will be released in the US by MPCA Records distributed by SonyRed, on March 15, 2011.[dated info]
On October 20, 2009, Starlight Children's Foundation and New Gold Music Ltd. released a song that Dionne recorded about 10 years prior called "Starlight". The lyrics had been written by Dean Pitchford, prolific writer of Fame, screenwriter of — and sole or joint lyricist of every song in the soundtrack of — the original 1984 film Footloose, and lyricist of the Solid Gold theme, and the music had been composed by Bill Goldstein, whose versatile career included the original music for NBC's Fame TV series. Dionne, Dean and Bill announced that they were donating 100% of their royalties to Starlight Children's Foundation as a way to raise money to support Starlight's mission to help seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities.
“When Bill and Dean brought this song to me, I instantly felt connected to its message of shining a little light into the lives of people who need it most”, said Warwick. “I admire the work of Starlight Children’s Foundation and know that if the song brings hope to even just one sick child, we have succeeded.”
In March 2011, Warwick appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice 4. Dionne's charity was the Hunger Project. She was dismissed from her "apprenticeship" to Donald John Trump during the fourth task of the season.
In February 2012, Warwick performed "Walk On By" on The Jonathan Ross Show. She also received the Goldene Kamera Musical Lifetime Achievement Award in Germany, and performed "That's What Friends Are For" at the ceremony.
On 28 May 2012, Warwick headlined the World Hunger Day concert at London's Royal Albert Hall. She sang the anthem, One World One Song, specially written for the Hunger Project by Tony Hatch and Tim Holder and was joined by Joe McElderry, the London Community Gospel Choir and a choir from Woodbridge School, Woodbridge, Suffolk.
Dionne Warwick married actor and drummer William David Elliott (1934-1983) (CBS's Bridget Loves Bernie-1972–73) in 1966; they divorced in May 1967. They reconciled and were remarried in Milan, Italy, in August 1967, according to Time. Warwick has stated in many interviews that "It was a case of can't do with, can't do without, so I married him again." On January 18, 1969, while living in East Orange, New Jersey, Warwick gave birth to her first son, David Elliott. In 1973, her second son Damon Elliott was born. On May 30, 1975, the couple separated and Warwick was granted a divorce in December 1975 in Los Angeles. The court denied Elliott's request for $2000 a month in support pending a community property trial and for $5000, when Elliott insisted he was making $500 a month in comparison to Warwick making $100,000 a month. Dionne stated in "Don't Make Me Over: Dionne Warwick", a 2002 Biography Channel interview, "I was the breadwinner. The male ego is a fragile thing. It's hard when the woman is the breadwinner. All my life, the only man, who ever took care of me financially was my father. I have always taken care of myself."
Warwick has been connected romantically with Philadelphia Eagles great Timmy Brown, French singer-songwriter Sacha Distel, actor Philip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice), Seagram heir and CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr., and Las Vegas restaurateur and actor Gianni Russo (The Godfather).
In 2002 Warwick was arrested at Miami International Airport for possession of marijuana. It was discovered that she had 11 suspected marijuana cigarettes inside her carry on luggage, hidden in a lipstick container. She was charged with possessing marijuana totaling less than five grams.
Warwick made the Top 250 Delinquent Taxpayers List published in October 2007. California Revenue & Taxation Code Section 19195 directs the Franchise Tax Board to publish an annual list of the top 250 taxpayers with liened state income tax delinquencies greater than $100,000 in an effort to collect money from those taxpayers, some of whom have been delinquent since 1987. Dionne Warwick was listed with a tax delinquency of $2,665,305.83 in personal income tax and a tax lien was filed July 24, 1997. The IRS eventually discovered that a large portion of the lein was due to an accounting error, and revoked $1.2mil of the tax lien.
Warwick lived in Brazil, a country she first visited in the early 1960s until 2005, according to an interview with JazzWax, when she moved back to the United States, when her mother and sister became ill. She became so entranced by Brazil, that she studied Portuguese and commenced to divide her time between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. In April 2010, in an interview on talk-show Programa do Jô, she said Brazil was the place where she intended to spend the rest of her life after retiring.
In 1993, her older son David, a former Los Angeles police officer, co-wrote with Terry Steele the Warwick-Whitney Houston duet "Love Will Find a Way", featured on her album, Friends Can Be Lovers. Since 2002, he has toured with and performed duets with his mother periodically, and had his acting debut in the film "Ali" as the singer Sam Cooke. David became a singer-songwriter, with Luther Vandross' "Here and Now" among others to his credit.
Her second son, Damon Elliott, is also a noted music producer, who has worked with Mýa, Pink, and Keyshia Cole. He even arranged and produced his mother's failed 2006 Concord release My Friends and Me.
Warwick declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New Jersey on March 21, 2013. Due to the reported mismanagement of her business affairs, she lists liabilities that include nearly $7 million owed to the Internal Revenue Service for the years 1991 to 1999 and more than $3 million in business taxes owed to the state of California. Unable to work out an agreement with tax officials, she and her attorney decided that declaring bankruptcy would be the best course of action.
- Warwick's sister Dee Dee Warwick also had a successful singing career, scoring several notable R&B hits, including the original version of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" and "I Want To Be With You", from the Broadway version of the musical 'Golden Boy'.
- Warwick's cousin was singer Whitney Houston, and her aunt is Gospel-trained vocalist Cissy Houston, Whitney's mother.
- In her 2010 autobiography, My Life, as I See It, Warwick notes that opera diva, Leontyne Price, is also her maternal cousin.