PUBLISHED IN THE TORONTO STAR ON DECEMBER 28, 1998

 

     DIANE WARREN, Hitmaker

    California Dynamo Writes The Songs That Sell Millions

 

By Nick Krewen

WYNONNA JUDD, MARK CHESNUTT and a gaggle of country and non-country music celebrities paid $125 U.S. a head a few weeks ago to stuff themselves into Nashville's renowned Bluebird Cafe and witness a historic event:the first ever full-length concert by DIANE WARREN.

Dianewho?.

Unless you peruse the Billboard charts or read CD credits, Diane Warren is a stranger to you. But if you're CELINE DION, WHITNEY HOUSTON, MICHAEL BOLTON or AEROSMITH and you're looking for a hit song, then Diane Warren is a friend. A very, very good friend.

In fact, the name Diane Warren has probably made you stacks of money, as documented by the estimated 150 million albums sold bearing a Warren song or two.

Name a few? TONI BRAXTON's dramatic "Unbreak My Heart." Michael Bolton's lung-busting "When I'm Back On My Feet Again." Celine Dion's mesmerizing "If You Asked Me To" and poignant "Because You Loved Me," written in honor of Warren's father.

There's "How Do I Live," the heart-wrenching 1987 ballad that instituted a tug of war between country sirens LeANN RIMES and TRISHA YEARWOOD when they simultaneously released hit versions of the song. Both were crossover smashes: Yearwood's version appears in the film Con Air  and nabbed an Academy Award nomination. Rimes' version Soundscanned two million copies and spent a recording-breaking 69 weeks in the Top 40 of Billboard's Hot 100. Diane Warren received the six-figure royalty cheques.

Oh, and then there's that most recent chart-topper, AEROSMITH's heart-wrenching love ballad "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing " from the film Armageddon -- the biggest hit of their 25-year career.

"We achieved a whole new visibility with that song," says Aerosmith's TOM HAMILTON.

"Not only is there a new recognition factor, but I even notice a bit of a fan frenzy when I walk down the street. It's brought us a much younger audience."

Career regeneration is just one advantage of a Warren pop masterpiece, discernible by its contagious melody and heart-driven message. Artists recently tapping into her gift for universal appeal include Whitney Houston, BRANDY, MYA, EN VOGUE and Celine Dion, all whom have recorded a Diane Warren tune -- or in Whitney's case, three of them -- for their latest albums.

JOHNNY MATHIS' latest album Because You Loved Me , is solely devoted to Warren. And over the past 15 years, over 100 A-List artists ranging from ACE OF BASE and AALIYAH to Trisha Yearwood and KISS have helped her songs cross pop, rock, R&B and country borders.

Film directors and producers have benefited from her expertise in such movies as Hope Floats, Space Jam, Con Air  and the upcoming Prince Of Egypt, and she's been rewarded with ASCAP's Songwriter Of The Year Award thrice, Billboard Songwriter Of The Year twice, a Grammy, and countless Oscars and Golden Globe nominations.

Yet for all the success that makes Diane Warren a one-woman songwriting dynamo, she's an anomaly for the simple reason she isn't interested in stardom.

Instead, she prefers to shun the spotlight, which makes her Bluebird Cafe benefit for Nashville's Park Center's Safe Havens particularly noteworthy.

Would this taste of public adoration spark a change of heart?

"I'm not going to make a habit of it," said Warren, 42, Tuesday from a Los Angeles recording studio, where she was in the midst of recording and mixing her latest demos.

"Actually, it was fun. It was an audience of songwriters, so there was a lot of warmth. But I'm not really comfortable in front of people. I don't like being in front of people on stage, which is why I write songs and stay in the background.

"There were no late dormant artist aspirations coming to life," she confirms.

In fact, the workaholic Warren prefers the sanctity of Realsongs, the Sunset Boulevard publishing company she owns within ten minutes of the Hollywood Hills home she shares with four parrots and a couple of cats. She's in the office seven days a week at 9:00 a.m., and doesn't usually leave until 10:00 p.m.

"I work hard," says Warren, who recently printed her third songwriting folio The Ultimate Collection, through Warner Chappell Music.

"I've kept my nose to the grindstone. I'm very driven. I don't have much of a social life, but it doesn't bother me. I'm happy doing what I'm doing."

Warren is more interested in keeping alive the Tin Pan Alley tradition of dedicating herself solely to songwriting and developing it as a science.

"I was just always intrigued by it, right from when I was little." Warren admits. "I was always intrigued by who wrote those songs much more than the artist who sang them. I wanted to know who wrote them. I had a fascination with it, even before I lifted pen to paper."

Born and raised in Van Nuys, California, Warren says she was smitten at an early age.

"I've been listening to the radio since I was 2 or 3," she says. "I just loved the radio. It was my friend."

A confessed loner, she began writing songs at age 11. By the time she was 14, Warren was churning out three a day, determined that songwriting was her future.

She had a harder time convincing her mother.

"No one in my family is musical, so I was on my own, really,"she recalls. "My Mom wasn't supportive at all. My Dad would take me to publishers, give me a lot of support and really, really believe in me. My Mom would yell at my Dad for getting me a guitar and taking me to publishers.

"She never really encouraged me at all. Now of course, my Mom says she's responsible for me doing well."

She got her big break in 1983 when LAURA BRANIGAN turned "Solitaire" into a Top Ten hit. Then DeBARGE struck with "Rhythm Of The Night" and gave her her first taste of international success. STARSHIP's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" was Warren's first chart-topper in 1987 and she hasn't looked back.

She chooses not to.

"I would never rest on my laurels," says Warren. "I'd rather look ahead than look back at all times. I'm proud of what I've achieved, but it's always the next thing that's the most interesting to me."

She takes greater pride in carving a niche for herself.

"It seems that a lot of people these days are hyphens: the writer-producer, the writer-artist," she explains. "It seems in this day and age you have a lot more of that. Unfortunately, you don't have the pure songwriter, although the pure songwriter still is important."

And the rewards, Warren says, are bountiful.

"You know, there are so many great things about it," she says. "To just sit in a room by myself and come up with something great is really the greatest gift. You play for people and they love it, and that's a great gift. Someone records it, it becomes a hit, you make money -- they're all great gifts.

"But it just feels good when people love your music. And it feels good to write something of quality."

However, Warren admits it's heart-breaking when a song doesn't get properly noticed.

"It's devastated me at times," she admits. "It's terrible. When you believe in something, it's like your kid. You have all these high goals in mind for your child, and you want them to graduate with honors -- and they drop out in third grade. I want my songs to do well."

But Warren is pleased when her songs inspire.

"I've seen letters from people that have said a song like `When I'm Back On My Feet Again' have stopped them from killing themselves," she says.

"It gave them strength. I like to think of my songs as healing songs."

Above all, Diane Warren hopes her tunes strike a chord with their admirers.

"I hope people just get something out of a song," Warren wishes. "That they feel something, that it becomes part of their lives. Like how songs were part of my life growing up."

-30-

 

AWARDS

1996 -- Grammy, Best Song Written Specifically For A Motion Picture Or For             Television -- "Because You Loved Me (Theme from: Up Close And             Personal)"

 

DIANE WARREN CUTS

1999 -- Christina Aguilera -- "I Turn To You"

1999 -- Christina Aguilera -- "Somebody's Somebody"

1999 -- All-4-One -- "On And On"

1999 -- Another Level -- "From The Heart"

1999 -- Tina Arena -- "If I Was A River"

1999 -- Susan Ashton, "Faith Of The Heart" - Capitol

1999 -- Aswad, "Don't Turn Around"

1999 -- Patti Austin, "If This Time Is The Last Time" -- Qwest

1999 -- Bad English, "When I See You Smile"

1999 -- Big Mountain, "I Would Find A Way"

1999 -- Mary J. Blige, "Give Me You" -- Universal

1999 -- Peabo Bryson, "Somebody In Your Life" -- Windham Hill

1999 -- C-Note -- "One Night With You (Every Day Of Your Life)"

1999 -- C-Note -- "Tell Me Where It Hurts"

1999 -- Raffaella Cavalli -- "Quando Mi Chiamerai"

1999 -- Cher, "Love And Understanding"

1999 -- Cher, "Don't Come Cryin'"

1999 -- Cher, "Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore"

1999 -- Cher, "If I Could Turn Back Time"

1999 -- Cher, "Save Up All Your Tears"

1999 -- Cher, "Just Like Jesse James"

1999 -- Cherry, "Sacred Kiss"

1999 -- Cherry, "Saddest Song"

1999 -- Mark Chesnutt, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" Decca

1999 -- Eric Clapton, "Blue Eyes Blue" -- Columbia

1999 -- Anita Cochran, "Last Kiss" -- Warner

1999 -- Jennifer Day, "I Turn To You"

1999 -- Celine Dion, "Because You Loved Me" -- Epic

1999 -- Celine Dion, "I Want You To Need Me" -- Epic

1999 -- Celine Dion, "Run Like A River" -- Epic

1999 -- Celine Dion, "Would I Know" -- Epic

1999 -- Else, "Fooled By The Moon" -- Universal

1999 -- EYC, "Baby Be There" - BMG

1999 -- EYC, "I Keep Hoping" -- BMG

1999 -- Lara Fabian, "Love Found Me" -- Sony

1999 -- Linda Imperial, "How Do I Live"

1999 -- KISS, "Nothing Can Keep Me From You" -- Mercury

1999 -- Patti LaBelle, "If You Asked Me To"

1999 -- Ricky Martin, "I Count The Minutes" -- Sony

1999 -- Ricky Martin, "You Stay With Me"

1999 -- Edwin McCain, "I Could Not Ask For More" -- Hollywood

1999 -- Millie, "Como Vivir Sin Verte"

1999 -- Monica, "For You I Will"

1999 -- Debelah Morgan, "As Long As I Can Dream" Universal

1999 -- Chante Moore -- "I See You In A Different Light" -- Universal

1999 -- Mya , "My First Night With You"

1999 -- 'NSync, "Are You Gonna Be" -- RCA

1999 -- 'NSync, "One In This World" -- RCA

1999 -- 'NSync, "That's When I'll Stop Loving You" -- RCA

1999 -- Pandora, "Act Of Faith"

1999 -- The Pretenders, "Loving You Is All I Know"

1999 -- Nadine Renee, "Sincere" MCA

1999 -- LeAnn Rimes, "Leaving's Not Leaving" -- Atlantic

1999 -- Diana Ross, "Love Is All That Matters"

1999 -- Diana Ross, "Someone That You Loved Before" -- Motown

1999 -- Anna Saeki, "Anatano Subeteo"

1999 -- Sarina, "Can I Come Over"

1999 -- Sarina, "Wishing On The Same Star"

1999 -- Selena, "I'm Getting Used To You"

1999 -- Grace Slick, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"

1999 -- Kevin Sharp, "I Could Not Ask For More"

1999 -- Tracie Spencer, "Nothing Broken But My Heart"

1999 -- Henry Lee Summer, "'Til Somebody Loves You"

1999 -- TLC, "Come On Down"

1999 -- Total, "Your Letter"

1999 -- Wild Orchid, "I'll Believe It When I Feel It"

1999 -- Trisha Yearwood, "I'll Still Love You More"

 

TOP TEN HITS

1983 -- Laura Branigan, "Solitaire"

1985 -- Debarge, "Rhythm Of The Night"

1987 -- Belinda Carlisle, "I Get Weak"

1987 -- Starship, "Set The Night To Music"

1987 -- Heart, "Who Will You Run To"

1988 -- J.T. & Regina Belle, "All I Want Is Forever"

1988 -- Aswad, "Give A Little Love"

1988 -- Chicago, "I Don't Wanna To Live Without Your Love"

1989 -- Barbra Streisand, "We're Not Making Love Anymore"

1989 -- Sadao Watanabe, Patti Austin, "Any Other Fool"

1989 -- Taylor Dayne, "Can't Fight Fate"

1989 -- Michael Bolton, "How Can We Be Lovers"

1989 -- Taylor Dayne, "I'll Be Your Shelter"

1989 -- Cher, "If I Could Turn Back Time"

1989 -- Patti LaBelle, "If You Asked Me To"

1989 -- Aretha Franklin/Elton John, "Through The Storm"

1989 -- Joe Cocker, "When The Night Comes"

1989 -- Michael Bolton, "When I'm Back On My Feet Again"

1989 -- Expose, "Your Baby Never Looked Good In Blue"

1990 -- Michael McDonald, "Take It To Heart"

1991 -- Michael Bolton, "Missing You Now"

1991 -- Michael Bolton, "Time, Love And Tenderness"

1991 -- Kathy Troccoli, "Everything Changes"

1991 -- Gloria Estefan, "Live For Loving You"

1991 -- Cher, "Love And Understanding"

1991 -- Celine Dion, "Love Can Move Mountains"

1991 -- Celine Dion, "Nothing Broken But My Heart"

1991 -- Roberta Flack, Maxi Priest "Set The Night To Music"

1991 -- Celine Dion, "Water From The Moon"

1992 -- Kenny G, Peabo Bryson, "By The Time This Night Is Over"

1992 -- Ace of Base, "Don't Turn Around"

1992 -- Joe Cocker, "Feels Like Forever"

1992 -- Michael W. Smith, "I Will Be Here For You"

1992 -- Expose, "I'll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me"

1992 -- Expose, "In Walked Love"

1992 -- Shanice, "Saving Forever For You"

1993 -- Michael Bolton, "Completely"

1993 -- Aaron Neville, "Don't Take Away My Heaven"

1994 -- Michael Bolton, "Once In A Lifetime"

1995 -- Meatloaf, "I'd Lie For You (And That's The Truth)"

1996 -- Monica, "For You I Will"

1996 -- All-4-One, "I Turn To You"

1996 -- Gloria Estefan, "Reach"

1996 -- Whitney Houston, "You Were Loved"

1997 -- LeAnn Rimes, "How Do I Live"

1997 -- Trisha Yearwood, "How Do I Live"

1997 -- Aaliyah, "The One I Gave My Heart To"

1997 -- Natalie Cole, "A Smile As Beautiful As Yours"

1998 -- Xscape, "The Arms Of The One Who Loves You"

1998 -- Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, "Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me"

1999 -- Mark Chesnutt, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing"

1999 -- Rod Stewart, "Faith Of The Heart"

BILLBOARD HOT 100 #1s

 

1987 -- Starship, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"

1988 -- Chicago, "Look Away"

1989 -- Milli Vanilli, "Blame It On The Rain"

1989 -- Taylor Dayne, "Love Will Lead You Back"

1989 -- Bad English, "When I See You Smile"

1996 -- Celine Dion, "Because You Loved Me"

1996 -- Toni Braxton, "Unbreak My Heart"

1998 -- Aerosmith, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing"

1999 -- Brandy, "Have You Ever"

 

 

MOTION PICTURE RELEASES

 

An Innocent Man      -- Joe Cocker, "When The Night Comes"

Arachnophobia         -- Russell Hitchcock, "Sweat To Your Heart"

Armageddon            -- Aerosmith, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing"

A Smile Like Yours  -- Natalie Cole, "A Smile Like Yours"

Caddyshack II          -- Patty Smyth, "I Run Right Back"

                               -- The Pointer Sisters, "Power Of Persuasion"

Class Action            -- Taylor Dayne, "Can't Fight Fate"

Con Air                   -- Trisha Yearwood, "How Do I Live"

Dance With Me       --- Vanessa Williams, Chayanne -- "You Are My Home"

Detroit Rock City     -- KISS, "Nothing Can Keep Me From You"

Disorderlies             -- Lauren Hunter, "Work Me Down"

Evening Star           --  Cheap Trick, "Ghost Town"

For The Boys           -- Bette Midler, "Every Road Leads Back To You"

Free Willy 2           --  Expose, "I'll Say Goodbye For The Two Of Us"

Ghostbusters           -- Laura Branigan, "Hot Nights"

Ghost Dad               -- Gladys Knight, "Strong As Steel"

Golden Child           -- Melisa Morgan, "A Deeper Love"

Hope Floats             -- Lila McCann, "To Get Me To You"

Karate Kid III          -- The Boys Club, "This Could Take All Night"

                             - - The Jets, "Under Any Moon"

Look Who's Talking Now -- Cheap Trick, "Wherever I Would Be"

License To Kill        --  Patti LaBelle, "If You Asked Me To"

Mannequin, Mannequin II -- Starship, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"

Men At Work           -- Ziggy Marley, "Give A Little Love"

Message In A Bottle  -- Edwin McCain, "I Could Not Ask For More"

Notting Hill              -- Another Level, "From The Heart"

Only You                  -- Michael Bolton, "Once In A Lifetime"

Patch Adams             -- Rod Stewart, "Faith Of The Heart"

Sing                         -- Bill Champlin, "Something To Believe In"

Space Jam                 -- Monica, "For You I Will"

                                -- All-4-One, "I Turn To You"

Speed II                    -- Tamia, "Make Tonight Beautiful"

Taps                         -- J.T. & Regina Belle, "All I Want Is Forever"

Tequila Sunrise          -- Ziggy Marley, "Give A Little Love"

The Associate            -- Cher,  "If I Could Turn Back Time"

                                -- Wynonna, "Makin' My Way (Any Way That I Can)"   

The Cutting Edge       -- Joe Cocker, "Feels Like Forever"

The Last Dragon        -- DeBarge, "Rhythm Of The Night"

The Other Sister        -- The Pretenders, "Loving You is All I Know"

The Pagemaster  -- Lisa Stansfield & Babyface, "Dream Away"

The Preacher's Wife   -- Whitney Houston, "You Were Loved"

The Prince Of Egypt  -- BoyzIIMen, "I Will Get There"

The Specialist -- Donna Allen, "Real"

Up Close And Personal -- Celine Dion, "Because You Loved Me"

Vice Versa -- Starship, "Set The Night To Music"

While You Were Sleeping, Daryl Hall/Dusty Springfield, "Wherever Would I Be"

White Men Can't Jump -- Jody Watley, "Let Me Make It Up To You"

Why Do Fools Fall In Love -- En Vogue, "No Fool No More"

Young Blood  -- Mickey Thomas, "Stand In The Fire"

 

THANKS: John Ferri, Betsy Powell, Lorrie Logan, Sean Stanley

©1998, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink

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