Dionne Warwick was born on December 12, 1940, in East Orange, New Jersey. She grew up in a family that worked in the music industry. Her mother and father both managed singing groups. Warwick started singing in the church choir at an early age. When she was a teenager, she started singing with her sister Dee Dee in a group called the Gospelaires. They continued to work together even after she enrolled in the University of Hartford, Connecticut, in 1959. During her time at college, she made frequent trips to New York for session work. During one of those trips, she met Burt Bacharach. Her work helped her grab the attention of Sceptor Records, where Warwick signed and recorded her first album. By the 1960s, she was all over the radio, primarily due to collaborations with Bacharach, including “I Say A Little Prayer,” and “Valley of the Dolls.” In 1969, she won her first Grammy. Sadly, after a decade, the partnership finished. During the 70s, she released almost no notable songs, and her popularity began to diminish. Nonetheless, she maintained her fans and continued to record, even reuniting with her former duet partner. However, his success in music seriously declined in the 90s. Instead, she became notorious for her work as a spokesperson for the Psychic Friends Network. Additionally, she worked with several, not for profits and also launched a skincare line. Her recording continued, and she released several more albums in the early 00s and sang duets with Cyndi Lauper and Reba McEntire. She co-wrote her autobiography in 2010 with her son 2010. Warwick went back to the music genre that made her famous in 2019, releasing “She’s Back.” However, even with all of these endeavors and a successful career, Warwick is now broke. What happened to the singer, and why is her net worth so low?
In 2013, CNN ran an article detailing what happened before Warwick filed for bankruptcy. During the early part of the year, the singer cited over $10 million dollars in tax debt, dating back over twenty years. When asked the reason, her publicist Kevin Sasaki stated “negligent and gross financial mismanagement.” Sources noted the singer had a little over $1000 dollars in cash and just under $2000 dollars in personal property at the filing. Federal income tax wasn’t the only place she was behind. Warwick also stated she owed $3 million to California for franchise taxes and $500,000 to a layer and business manager. Even though this seemed like a grim situation, there appeared to be an error in the report. Her personal effects included two fur coats and several sets of diamond earrings worth just under $50,000. Another discrepancy was she had a pension option from the SAG/AFTRA union totaling $20,965-. However, she listed her job as Star Girl Productions.
No one could have predicted this
One of the biggest fallouts in Warwick’s career happened in the 90s. The singer decided to do infomercials for the now-infamous Psychic Friends Network. Everything about them was cheesy. She stood in front of a garish backdrop, surrounded by a handful of plants. To this day, the story isn’t far from many people’s minds. Additionally, many people believe that doing these commercials was less a career move and more because of her personal beliefs. After all, she added an e to her name because her astrologer predicted more success if she did. Warwick participated in President Donald Trump’s show Celebrity Apprentice. While a contestant, Warwick found the other contestants to be rude and backbiting. After half a decade in the music industry, she knew this wasn’t where she wanted to be. So, instead of waiting for the infamous “you’re fired,” she quit. Her next reality show was far more interesting. One of the things Warwick can’t disguise is her voice. So, when she put on a mask singer costume, it was almost impossible not to hear the same agent who sang notable hits like “Walk on By.” In fact, during her season, she was one of the first artists to be identified. During an interview with the Guardian, the singer looked back on her time with the show, stating, “the fortunate or unfortunate thing about my voice is it’s so distinctive.”
Throughout Warwick’s career, she’s had many highs and quite a few lows. However, the one thing that’s kept her constant is how much she loves performing. Almost two decades since her bankruptcy fallout, she achieved several more milestones in her career. In 2019, she released two albums, won a Grammy, and started an ongoing show in Las Vegas. However, she also enjoys having a little fun on social media. In an article from Billboard, they called her a “preofessional tweete.” After all, many things she said in 144 characters ended up going viral. One of the best exchanges was between her and Chance the Rapper. Warwick tweeted, “if you are very obviously a rapper why did you put it in your stage name? I can’t stop thinking about this. I am now Dionne the Singer.”
Warwick’s career has had many ups and some crushing lows. However, she’s maintained her sense of self and learned to laugh at some of her own mistakes through it all. Even though she’s still well known, her bank account never recovered. It’s estimated her net worth is only about 500,000. Nonetheless, her career achievements, such as having almost as many Billboard Singles as Aretha Franklin or winning five Grammy’s, are things money can’t buy. As Warwick says, “I don’t think there’s anything I can’t do. I have no regrets.” They are great words from someone whose risen from both the top and bottom during her career and continues to surprise fans each day.