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Dionne Farris


Farris was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, United States, the daughter of Larraine (Wall) and Richard Farris, both of who had musical talents and aspirations, and named Dionne for their favorite singer, Dionne Warwick. Farris was raised in Bordentown, New Jersey by her single mother, whose side of the family introduced her to the musical acts that shaped and influenced her as an artist. Farris was a huge Diana Ross fan as a child — one of Farris’ fondest memories was attending a Ross concert in Manhattan at the age of eight, being lifted by her uncle onstage, and getting kissed by the superstar.

Farris began taking dance lessons at the age of three at Irene Parker Dance Studio, Hamilton Township, New Jersey. She danced ballet, jazz, tap, and toe for ten years, opting at thirteen to sing instead. Aside from singing in church, Farris was first exposed to music performance as a third-grader at Peter Muschal Elementary School (Bordentown, New Jersey), when she was selected as one of two students to join a regional children’s choir being created. In middle school, Farris was part of the New Jersey Singers’ Choir under the direction of Gary Farquhar, where they performed classical works, (Carmina Burana), Broadway (Cats (musical)), and choral music. Her first solo performance out side of school was at the age of twelve, when she sang an a cappella rendition of “Good Morning Heartache” by Billie Holiday after watching the movie Lady Sings the Blues and getting Holiday's records from the public library. She sang in her high school’s choir and starred in the then controversial lead role of the high school’s production of Annie, in her senior year. The drama teacher stated that some in the community were not happy that Farris had the role, because she was black.

After graduating from Bordentown Regional High in 1987, Farris attended Mercer County Community College, where she studied photography. Farris entered into the Miss Hemisphere Pageant regional competitions, directly after high school and won her first and only pageant as 1987's Miss Hemisphere's Adult Talent, singing Whitney Houston's Saving All My Love for You in Miami, Florida. But it was music that really drew Farris, and she joined a band in Plainfield, New Jersey, known as 2.0 and later as Breaking Ground. They began performing on the Manhattan’s club circuit, and looked to sign a record deal. Farris decided to move to Atlanta with her then boyfriend Donald "Rasa Don" Jones (one of the earlier members of Arrested Development), where her father lived, to try to establish herself in the then-nascent African American cultural renaissance that was building in that Southern city. After a short while Farris hooked up with then-wunderkind Atlanta producer Jermaine Dupri and began writing songs for Atlanta-based acts such as TLC and singing backgrounds for acts such as Xscape, and El Debarge. She signed a management contract with Michael Mauldin's (father of Dupri) company as a solo artist, but would later become a member of a girl group they were producing, known as Onyx (a name later co-opted by a semi-gangsta rap group).

Dionne Farris (born 1969, Bordentown, New Jersey, United States).
In 1995, she had a solo hit single called "I Know," which hit number four on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1997, she had another called "Hopeless" (written by Van Hunt) from the Love Jones soundtrack.
In the UK Singles Chart, "I Know" peaked (after a re-release) at #41 in May 1995, and "Hopeless" peaked at #42 in June 1997.
On April 8, 1995, she was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live.
She sang the closing song "For Once In My Life" in the 1996 film, The Truth About Cats & Dogs.

 

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