Dionne Warwick was born on December 12, 1941, in East Orange, New Jersey. Her household was filled with music, and as a girl, she joined her church choir. By the time she entered her teens, Warwick was appearing on TV as part of another gospel choir. Before long, she was performing as a backup singer for the likes of Dinah Washington and Ray Charles.
In 1962, the 21-year-old began churning out international hits, such as "Don't Make Me Over," by pairing up with powerhouse songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David. In 1963, she fell in love with drummer-turned-actor Bill Elliot; the volatile pair married and divorced twice over a 12-year period. While the singer's personal life was shaky professionally, the chart-busters she wrote with Bacharach and David kept coming, as did her first Grammy Award, for "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" in 1968. Warwick made her screen debut in 1969 opposite Ozzie Davis in "Slaves." After filming wrapped, she gave birth to son David, and in 1972, to son Damon.
In 1973, Warwick's music-making trio disbanded. She continued on, but it would take six long years to prove that she could do it alone, with the release of "Déjà Vu," her smash two-time Grammy-winning solo album. Around the same time, she landed a gig as host of the popular TV musical variety show "Solid Gold." Warwick used her fame to become an activist, focusing much of her energy on fund-raising for AIDS research. She also became spokesperson for the Psychic Friends Network, a decision that brought her much ridicule and caused her regret in retrospect.
Today, Warwick relishes all of her new opportunities in life — as a grandmother, mentor to hip-hop artists at her son David's record label, global ambassador to the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization, and soon-to-be author. But with all that, "I haven't even scratched the surface on the things I want to do," says the 63-year-old mega talent.