Born Marie Dionne Warrick, her last name was misspelled on the label of her first single, "Don't Make Me Over," so she started using the incorrect "Warwick." She added an "E" to her last name in the early 1970s on the advice of a psychic claiming that the extra letter would give her "positive energy" and "great success." Her string of hits (22 Top 40s in eight years) suddenly stopped - she had only one Top 40 hit with the modified name, and THAT was a collaboration with the Spinners ("Then Came You") when they were red-hot. The extra "E" was removed when she changed record labels in 1979 - and the hits resumed.
She hosted the TV show Solid Gold from 1980-81 and again in the '85-'86 season.
Although she is known as a solo singer, both her #1 hits were collaborations: "Then Came You" (with the Spinners) and "That's What Friends Are For" ("Dionne Warwick and Friends" - Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John were the "friends," despite Warwick and Wonder meeting for the first time in the studio).
She started her recording career singing in the background of a few Drifters songs (Leiber and Stoller producing) and singing demo recordings of songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
The songs she made famous are notoriously difficult to sing. "She got her own little world," Darlene Love said in her Songfacts interview
. "The only person who really sang her songs was Luther Vandross, and that's because he made it his song."
Originally she wanted to teach music and not perform; she has a doctorate in music education from Hartt College of Music in Connecticut.
She is the niece of Cissy Houston, cousin of Whitney Houston, and sister of Dee Dee Warwicke, who sang the original version of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me."
In 1985, Warwick, became a spokesperson for the Psychic Friends Network, which was the first national psychic hotline. She touted the network on widely-seen infomercials.
She was an early supporter of AIDS research and was appointed US Ambassador of Health in 1987 for her work.
For a while, Warwick has had more chart hits than any female singer in history with the exception of Aretha Franklin. Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj later passed her.
She appears in the movies Slaves
(1969), The Love Machine
(1971), The Day The Music Died
(1977) and Rent-A-Cop
Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 6
Warwick is a big tennis fan. She told The Mail on Sunday's Event magazine: "I watch any match I can - it doesn't matter who is playing."
Her demo recording of "Take It Easy on Yourself" interested the owner of Scepter Records - she was signed on the spot.