December 12th in African American History – Marie Dionne Warwick

December 12, 1940 Marie Dionne Warwick, singer and activist, was born in East Orange, New Jersey.

Warwick began singing gospel as a child and sang her first solo at the age of 6. In 1958, she and other members formed the Gospelaires which in their first performance together won the weekly amateur contest at the Apollo Theater. In 1962, Warwick’s first solo single was released, “Don’t Make Me Over,” which went to number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Over her career, Warwick is second to Aretha Franklin as the female vocalist with the most Billboard Hot 100 hits between 1955 and 1999 with 56, including “Anyone Who Had a Heart” (1963), “Walk on By” (1964), “I Say a Little Prayer” (1967), and “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” (1979). She has won five Grammy Awards and has three songs in the Grammy Hall of Fame as recordings of “lasting qualitative or historical significance”, “Don’t Make Me Over” (1962), “Walk on By” (1964), and “Alfie” (1967).

In 2002, Warwick was appointed United Nations Global Ambassador for the Food and Agricultural Organization and in 2003 she was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. The Dionne Warwick Institute of Economics and Entrepreneurship in East Orange is named in her honor.

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