The Polar Music Prize 2020 is awarded to American songwriter Diane Warren, a master of writing for the human voice. Her pop songs embody the rare combination of being catchy and yet complex enough to be heard hundreds of times, and still resonate with the listener. Diane Warren is the reigning Queen of the American popular song. Writing for artists like Céline Dion, Cher, Aerosmith, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga as well as crafting songs for major Hollywood movies and garnering 11 Oscar nominations, she’s perfected the art of the power ballad. Diane Warren is the founder of Realsongs, the most successful female-owned music publisher in the world. As a singer, to be given a Diane Warren song, is a gift.
You have to have talent
and work your ass off
Diane Warren on becoming a successful songwriter“
An early conviction
Diane Eve Warren was born in 1956 in Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley, California. As a child, “Billboard was her education” and she realised at an early age that she wanted to be the one within the brackets next to the songs – the songwriter. She got at 12-string Martin guitar from her father at 15 and started to work hard on the dream of writing music, rehearsing in a shed in the backyard at home. As a teenager, she hitchhiked with her friends over the hills to LA and Hollywood, and wanted to meet people in the music business.
When I was 19, I used to go to California State Northridge
and break into the practice rooms
Diane herself mentions classic 60s and 70s artists as part of her inspiration: The Beatles (with another Polar Music Prize Laureate Paul McCartney), Dusty Springfield, Motown, Polar Music Prize Laureate Stevie Wonder, Carole King among others.
Aiming the charts
During a decade Diane Warren worked hard on trying to get into the music business, supported by her father. She finally managed to start working with producer Jack White in the early 80s. He gave her a French song by Martine Clemenceau, and asked her to write English lyrics. It resulted in ”Solitaire” in 1983, released by Laura Branigan. This would be Diane Warrens first official hit song that reached the charts that same year, nbr 7 on Billboards US Top 100. Two years later in 1985, Debarge’s ”Rhythm of the night” written by Diane became a major hit. The trend of climbing charts had just started and has to this date never stopped.
The number ones!
What do these hit songs have in common? They were all written by Diane Warren and made it to the nr 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 list between 1987 and 1998.
Process and publishing
Diane Warren owns the publishing company Realsongs, with one employee – herself. She usually writes in a small room around the corner from her studio, where very few people are allowed to visit. Her voice, and answering machine, are her writing tools. By managing Diane’s entire catalogue, Realsongs has today become one of the most successful publishing companies in the American music industry
“I don’t have confidence in myself as a human being, but I have unshakeable confidence in my music. When I know something is right, when I know a song is right for somebody…I believe, and it’s unshakeable.”
Think back to any time a piece of music has really embedded a scene into your brain and chances are Diane Warren was behind the music and lyrics.
Ashley Falls, director of Clio Entertainment“
Music in films
Diane Warren has written hundreds of scores and soundtracks to motion pictures which has given her 11 Oscar nominations throughout the years. She has written for blockbusters in the 80s and 90s such as Ghostbusters, Space Jam, Prince of Egypt, Up Close and Personal, The Preacher’s Wife, and White Men Can’t Jump.
The most important songwriter in the world...
Peter Reichardt, UK's former Chairman of EMI Music Publishing“
Awards & recognition
The impressive list of awards and award nominations speak for themselves. Diane Warren has up to today won a great amount of awards; Emmys, Grammys and a Golden Globe. She has until 2020 had 11 Oscar nominations. In addition to that she has also been inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame. In 2019 she was awarded the Honorary Clio Entertainment Award.
She writes songs for tremendously wide range of artists, and continues to work with many of today’s most popular acts, including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Adele, Justin Bieber, Christina Aguilera, Snoop Dogg, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Paloma Faith, Andra Day, Demi Lovato, LeAnn Rimes, Common, Janelle Monae, Missy Elliott, Zendaya and Jason Derulo. She has written for iconic artists such as Whitney Houston, Cher, Aerosmith, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Swedish Agnetha Fältskog, and many many more.