Born in Van Nuys, California. Addresses: Publishing company--Realsongs, on the Internet at http://www.realsongs.com.; phone: (213) 462-1709.
Diane Warren is one of the most prolific, successful, and sought- after pop music composers in history. During the 1980s and 1990s, hundreds of performers recorded her music. She has penned more than 75 Top 10 hits for such artists as Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Toni Braxton, and LeAnn Rimes, and crafted No. 1 hits in France, Australia, Holland, Germany, and England. Her independent publishing company, Realsongs, controls the rights to more than 600 Warren compositions, and her songs have been used in more than 50 movies, ranging from Up Close and Personal and The Preacher's Wife to Caddyshack II and Karate Kid III. She has been nominated for Grammy Awards, Academy Awards, and Golden Globe Awards. She was the first songwriter ever to log seven hits, each performed by a different singer, on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. And she is the only female composer to be named ASCAP's Writer of the Year three times. By one estimate, Warren has been responsible for the sale of more than 125 million records. Her songs have been important to the careers of a diverse list of artists including Joe Cocker, Roy Orbison, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Wynonna, Trisha Yearwood, Meat Loaf, Cher, and the infamous lip-synching duo Milli Vanilli. "Diane takes everyday situations and turns them into hit songs," producer David Foster said on the Realsongs website. "When I've recorded her songs, there's always some little magical turn that really heightens the song for me. Part of what makes her so good is sheer hard work. Without a doubt, she is the hardest working songwriter I've ever met."
Warren's obsession with songwriting began when she was a child, after her father, an insurance salesman, brought her a guitar from Tijuana, Mexico. "I took lessons, and the teacher told my parents I was tone deaf," Warren recalled to Cynthia Sanz of People. "I just didn't want to do the goddamn scales. I wanted to make up my own little songs.... I think I willed myself into being a songwriter. I was in love with the idea when I was 11. I got serious about it when I was 14, writing three songs a day." As a teenager, Warren sent countless demo tapes to music producers--and received countless rejections. Her breakthrough came in 1982, when Laura Branigan recorded her song "Solitaire." Three years later, Warren wrote "Rhythm of the Night," which DeBarge took to No. 3 on the pop charts and No. 1 on the adult contemporary charts. "'Rhythm of the Night' ... changed my life," Warren stated in a chat with Backstage Pass. "People started returning my calls." That same year, in 1985, she founded Realsongs to publish and market her material. It became a Top 10 music publishing company and the most successful female- owned and operated business in the music industry, racking up more No. 1 singles than any other music publisher. "For me, it's always about improving and achieving more," Warren told Terri Horak of Billboard. "I am way beyond a workaholic. It hasn't changed since I was 14.... If anything, I work even harder now."
Warren's hard work and intensity are legendary in the entertainment business--Cher calls her "totally nuts," and Michael Bolton has said that the writer obsesses and slaves over her songs. As a result, Warren readily acknowledges, she has virtually no social life. "She spends so much time at her cluttered Hollywood office," Sanz wrote in People, "that a recent weekend at home in the hills above Sherman Oaks, California, left her perplexed. "I didn't know what to do," Warren told Sanz. "I tried watching TV, but I hate TV. I thought about drinking a beer, but I don't really drink. I wanted to relax, but I never relax and didn't know how. Finally, after a couple hours, I realized the thing I really wanted to do was write. So I said to hell with relaxing and went to my office."
Warren follows no particular pattern or method when she's writing. "Ideas and titles just pop in my head," she was quoted in People. "I've written songs on Kotex, lyrics on the palm of my hand. If I don't have a tape recorder, I'll call home and sing into my answering machine.... I try to write something that I love, something emotional with great melodies and lyrics that can really touch people. Something that isn't trendy, that will last through the ages. The best ones are the ones that make me cry when I'm writing them." That artistic sensitivity seems a bit odd coming from a woman who is rarely openly emotional, but is instead cynical and armed with a cutting sense of humor. "People that know me don't really understand how someone like me writes the songs I do," Warren told Billboard's Carrie Borzillo. "I don't know where it comes from because in real life I'm very cynical and sarcastic, so it's like this strange dichotomy."
It's often difficult for Warren to give up her compositions to the artists who will record them. "I have to keep in mind that it's not my record," she told Borzillo. "I'm just here to help them with their vision. It's hard because I write and I really nit-pick and I'm really precise, and you have to give (the artist) some freedom of artistic expression, because it's like a suit, It has to fit right.... A lot of times people will really change a song, change my lyrics, change chords, change melody, and it kind of pisses me off." On the other hand, Warren says she has never been tempted to record her own songs; she prefers to remain in the background where she can enjoy her privacy. She also disregards the suggestion that her work is overly sentimental and unhip, or that pop music is a demeaning style in which to work. "I love pop," she proclaimed to Neville Farmer of the Country Music Association. "Great soul is pop. Motown is pop. I'm in love with the concept of the three-and- a-half-minute song."
Warren has also been an active and generous supporter of the National Academy of Songwriters, AIDS Project Los Angeles, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance, and other causes. In the end, she says, gets the most satisfaction from reaching a listener. "When I was a kid, the songs I heard on the radio affected me in a deep way," she stated in the Backstage Pass interview. "I hope mine are doing the same thing to other people. If I can speak to someone's heart and soul, then I'll have come up with a pretty good song."
by Dave Wilkins
Diane Warren's Career
Began writing songs at age eleven; Laura Branigan sang Warren's first recorded song, "Solitaire," 1982; wrote "Rhythm of the Night" for the band DeBarge, which hit No. 1 on adult contemporary charts, 1985; founded independent publishing company, Realsongs, 1985; has written Top 10 songs for artists such as Belinda Carlisle, Barbra Streisand, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, and Trisha Yearwood, 1983-1997; reached top songwriter on Billboard's Hot 100 and Hot R&B Singles charts, 1997.
Diane Warren's Awards
ASCAP, Songwriter of the Year, 1990, 1991, 1993; Billboard, Singles Publisher of the Year, 1990; Billboard, Writer of the Year, 1990 and 1993; LA Music Awards, Songwriter of the Year, 1991; Billboard, Top 10 Publishing Company, 1991-1994; ASCAP, Voice of Music Award, 1995; National Academy of Songwriters, Songwriter of the Year, 1996; Grammy Award, Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television, "Because You Loved Me," performed by Celine Dion for Up Close and Personal, 1996; American Songwriter, Songwriter of the Year and Publisher of the Year, 1996; International Achievement in the Arts Award, Distinguished Achievement in Songwriting, 1997; Billboard Award, No. 1 Songwriter in pop and R&B, 1997.
- Billboard, April 22, 1995, p. 58; May 24, 1997, p. 45.
- People, July 22, 1991, p. 61.
- Stereo Review, March 1994, p. 96.
- Additional material was taken from the Realsongs web page.