Jennifer Warnes Biography

3 March 1947, Seattle, Washington, USA. Warnes grew up in Orange County, California and first sang in public as a child. In 1967, her strong pop/MOR voice won a contract to appear (as Jennifer Warren) on the television series hosted by country group the Smothers Brothers. Her first recording session was a duet with Mason Williams and Warnes became part of the Los Angeles club scene. She also took a leading role in the west coast production of Hair. As a solo artist Warnes recorded unsuccessfully under the name Jennifer for Parrot Records and Reprise Records, where John Cale produced her 1972 album, before signing to Arista Records in 1975. There she had a Top 10 hit (and a country chart-topper) with ‘Right Time Of The Night’ in 1977 while ‘I Know A Heartache When I See One’ (1979) was also successful.

During the 80s, as well as her work as a guest vocalist, Warnes gained a reputation as a singer of film themes after ‘It Goes Like It Goes’ from Norma Rae won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1980. She performed Randy Newman’s ‘One More Hour’ on the soundtrack of Ragtime before scoring her biggest hit in 1983 with ‘Up Where We Belong’. A duet with Joe Cocker, the Oscar and Grammy-winning title song from An Officer And A Gentleman topped the US charts. Other film songs were ‘Nights Are Forever’ (from The Twilight Zone: The Movie) and ‘All The Right Moves’, sung with ex-Manfred Mann’s Earth Band vocalist Chris Thompson. Warnes again reached the top of the US charts when she teamed up with Bill Medley for the Dirty Dancing theme, ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’ in 1987. The single also won a Grammy Award the following year. During this period Warnes recorded a much-acclaimed selection of Leonard Cohen compositions, Famous Blue Raincoat. Warnes had first worked with Cohen on tour in 1973 and had created vocal arrangements for his Recent Songs, as well as singing on his later releases.

Warnes co-produced her own 1992 album for Private Music as well as co-writing most of the songs. Among the musicians contributing were Richard Thompson, Van Dyke Parks and Donald Fagen. She subsequently appeared on albums by Jackson Browne, John Prine, Tanita Tikaram and Stephen Bruton, before making a long overdue return to the studio in the new millennium to record The Well. A 20th anniversary edition of Famous Blue Raincoat was released in 2007.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.