She is perhaps best known for her collaborations with such high-profile artists as Burt Bacharach and Barry Manilow. Warrick was raised in a middle-class, racially integrated community in East Orange, New Jersey. Her family was both spiritually and musically inclined—her mother managed a renowned gospel choir, the Drinkard Singers, and her father became a gospel record promoter—and Dionne, as everyone called her, began singing in church at a young age. She often played piano or organ for the Drinkard Singers, and she sometimes sang in place of absent adult members.
In , Warwick celebrated her 50th anniversary in the music business with the album Now. She filed for bankruptcy the following year. She comes from a gospel musical background as the daughter of a record promoter and a gospel group manager and performer. After finishing high school in , Warwick pursued her passion at the Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. She also landed some work with her group singing backing vocals for recording sessions in New York City. During one session, Warwick met Burt Bacharach.
Warwick had one sister, Dionne Warwick , and a brother, Mancel Jr, who was killed in an accident in at the age of At a performance by the Gospelaires with the Drinkard Singers at the Apollo Theater in , the Warwick sisters were recruited by a record producer for session work and Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick, along with Doris Troy , subsequently became a prolific New York City area session singing team. Warwick was regarded as one of the first openly lesbian performers within the music industry. Warwick continued to record for Mercury through the late s. Warwick made her first recordings for Atco in February , cutting four tunes with Townsend. In an early indication of the disarray that Warwick's career would experience at Atlantic, these tracks were shelved and she was sent to Criteria Studios in Miami in April to work with producer Dave Crawford and fast-emerging studio band, The Dixie Flyers.
A six-time Grammy Award winner, Warwick has sold over 85 million records worldwide. Warwick ranks among the 40 biggest hit makers of the entire rock era — , based on the Billboard Hot Pop Singles Charts. She is one of the most-charted female vocalists of all time, with 56 of her singles making the Billboard Hot between and , and 80 singles making all Billboard charts combined. Dionne was named after her aunt on her mother's side. During one session, Warwick met Burt Bacharach, who hired her to record demos featuring songs written by him and lyricist Hal David.