In the 1960s and 1970s, a well-rounded record collection would have been incomplete without a Dionne Warwick album, and back in the day, there were plenty to choose from. The East Orange, New Jersey native has had over 60 hits on the charts, sold over 100 million albums, and earned five Grammy awards in a career that spans 50 years. We’re all pretty much hip to the fact that she comes from a musical family right? (Her aunt, Cissy Houston…her cousin, the late Whitney Houston.) Warwick made her singing debut in church when she was six years old and often sang with the family gospel group the Drinkard Singers. During her teens, Warwick and her sister Dee Dee started their own gospel group, The Gospelaires. She began singing professionally in 1961 after being discovered by a young songwriting duo, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It was with them she scored her first hit in 1962 with “Don’t Make Me Over,” as well as a decade’s worth of songs that would go on to be classics such as “Walk on By,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “A House is Not a Home,” “Alfie,” “Say a Little Prayer,” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” In 1974, Warwick scored another chart-topper with her duet with The Spinners, “Then Came You.” Five years later, she hosted a two-hour musical special that became a weekly show. Old school fans may remember Warwick hosting Solid Gold in from 1980-81, and again in 1985-86. It was also in the 1980s that she earned her 3rd and 4th Grammy awards with the singles “I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again” and “Déjà Vu.” In 1985, she reunited with Bacharach and joined up with friends Gladys Knight, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder to record the song “That’s What Friends Are For,” originally recorded by Rod Stewart three years earlier, for the feature film “Nightshift.” The Warwick version was released as a charity single to benefit the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Not only did the song raise over three million dollars for the cause, it also became a number one hit and earned Warwick her fifth Grammy award. She recently performed the song with her cousin Whitney, at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy gala in 2011.
Montrose Cunningham is an independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado residing in Dallas, Texas. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughters; sometimes both at the same time. Purchase his latest release “Inertia” at www.MontroseMusic.com, visit him online at Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @MontroseC.