Jennifer Jean Warnes (born March 3, 1947) is an American singer, songwriter, arranger and record producer. She is known for her interpretations of compositions written by herself and many others, as well as an extensive playlist as a vocalist on movie soundtracks.
Between 1979 and 1987 Warnes surpassed Frank Sinatra as the vocalist performing the most songs to be nominated for (four) and to win (three) the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Her biggest hits include two of these Billboard chart topping Oscar and Grammy winners - "Up Where We Belong" (duet with Joe Cocker, from the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman) and "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" (duet with Bill Medley from the 1987 film Dirty Dancing).
Warnes was born in Seattle, Washington and raised in Anaheim, California. Her desire and ability to sing came early; at age seven she was offered her first recording contract, which her father turned down. She sang in church and local pageants, until age 17 when Warnes was offered an opera scholarship to Immaculate Heart College. She chose to sing folk music as it became popularized by Joan Baez in the mid-1960s. In 1968, after a few years with musical theatre and clubs, she signed with Parrot Records (a London Records subsidiary) and recorded her first LP. That year, she joined the cast of the television show The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
Early in her career, industry advisers suggested her surname "Warnes" should be changed to the more common "Warren." This led to confusion with Broadway and film actress Jennifer Warren, so she performed for some time under the single name "Jennifer," later reverting to her full name.
In November 1968, Warnes (as "Jennifer Warren") portrayed the female lead in the Los Angeles, California production of the stage musical Hair. She had a related UK single release as 'Jennifer' on London HLU 10278 in June 1969 with 'Let The Sunshine In' c/w 'Easy To Be Hard', licensed from US Parrot label.
In 1971, she met Canadian poet/songwriter Leonard Cohen, who became a lifelong friend. She would eventually tour Europe with Cohen's band first as a back-up singer and then as vocal arranger and guest singer on Cohen's albums Live Songs, Various Positions, I'm Your Man, The Future, Field Commander Cohen and Recent Songs including a duet on a song titled "The Smokey Life". Warnes would later (1987) record a critically acclaimed audiophile album of Cohen songs, Famous Blue Raincoat.
Full article ▸