Diane Warren

 Photo by Rochelle Brodin

At the 2019 LitFest Gala in Los Angeles on November 1, 2019, PEN America will honor internationally acclaimed songwriter Diane Warren with the Artistic Expression Award. 

Diane Warren is one of the most continuously prolific and successful contemporary songwriters of our time. She is the sole owner of her publishing company Realsongs.

Her songs have been featured in more than 100 motion pictures resulting in 10 Academy Award® nominations. Warren most recently received her 10th Oscar nomination for the original song “I’ll Fight” for RBG, a documentary feature about the life and legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg co-produced by Storyville Films and CNN Films which opened in theatres in May 2018. The song is performed by Jennifer Hudson. “I’ll Fight” was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Song. RBG had its broadcast premiere on CNN on September 3, 2018.

She received her ninth Oscar nomination for the original song “Stand Up For Something” with music by Warren and lyrics by Warren and Common for the film Marshall which was released in theatres on October 13, 2017. The song is performed by Andra Day featuring Common. Warren and Common also received a Grammy Award nomination in the category of Best Song Written For Visual Media. “Stand Up For Something” was also nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Song.

She received her eighth Oscar nomination for “Til It Happens To You,” performed by Lady Gaga, from the critically acclaimed documentary The Hunting Ground and her seventh Oscar nomination for her original song “Grateful” performed by Rita Ora for the film Beyond the Lights. In 2016, Warren also earned her first Emmy nomination and her first Emmy win for “Til It Happens To You.” She was nominated for five Golden Globes and won for the powerful ballad “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” performed by Cher in the movie Burlesque. Both Trisha Yearwood and LeAnn Rimes had hit records with her Oscar and Grammy nominated song “How Do I Live” from the movie Con Air. Warren’s popular “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from Mannequin, “Because You Loved Me” sung by Celine Dion for the film Up Close and Personal, “Music Of My Heart” performed by *NSYNC and Gloria Estefan for the film Music Of The Heart, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” performed by Aerosmith for Armageddon, and “There You’ll Be” sung by Faith Hill from Pearl Harbor were also Oscar nominated and hit songs.

Diane has been nominated for 15 Grammys, and received a Grammy for the song “Because You Loved Me.” She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001.

Diane wrote the original song “I’m Standing With You” performed by Chrissy Metz for the feature film Breakthrough which opened on April 17, 2019. The film stars Chrissy Metz, Josh Lucas and Topher Grace. She also wrote the original song “Forward Motion” performed by Daya for the film Late Night which stars Mindy Kaling, who also co-wrote and produced the film, Emma Thompson and Hugh Dancy. Late Night opened in theaters nationwide on June 14.

In addition in 2018, she wrote the song “Why Did You Do That?” for A Star is Born co-written and performed by Lady Gaga. She also wrote the original song “To Get Here” performed by Willie Nelson for The Last Movie Star which starred Burt Reynolds and was released in March 2018.

Warren wrote the song, “This Is For My Girls,” released in 2016, which features vocal performances from Kelly Clarkson, Chloe & Halle, Missy Elliott, Jadagrace, Lea Michele, Janelle Monáe, Kelly Rowland, and Zendaya. Sales from the single benefit charities supporting young women’s education globally, including First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative. The song was performed by Michelle Obama and Missy Elliott on The Late Late Show with James Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke” segment which has garnered over 70 million views.

Her original song “Til It Happens To You” is featured in the Radius and CNN Films documentary The Hunting Ground which was released in February 2015 and aired on CNN in November 2015. The song received a 2016 Oscar nomination in the original song category. Warren received her first Emmy nomination, as well as her first Emmy win in 2016 for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. The song also received a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media. This makes it the first song in history to be nominated for an Academy Award, Grammy and Emmy. It was also nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Song. In addition, it won the Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Song – Documentary. Diane also wrote the original song “The Crazy Ones” performed by Paloma Faith for Miss You Already starring Drew Barrymore and directed by Catherine Hardwicke, released in November 2015. In addition, Diane wrote the original song “You Will” for Oprah Winfrey which serves as the anthem for the OWN network. The song is performed by Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Nettles and debuted in March 2015.

She also wrote a new theme song for ABC’s THE VIEW called “World’s Gone Crazy” performed by Mary J. Blige which premiered on the show in September 2016.

She also wrote the original song “Prayers for this World” performed by Cher for the documentary Cries From Syria directed by Evgeny Afineevsky. The film premiered on January 22, 2017, at the Sundance Film Festival and debuted on HBO on March 13, 2017.

In 2011, Diane wrote the song “I Was Here” for Beyoncé’s record “4,” which hit number one on the Billboard charts. The video for the song was filmed at the U.N. to launch World Humanitarian Day, and the song has reached over 1 billion people. 

Diane 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.

During her impressive career, Warren has written for iconic artists such as Whitney Houston, Cher, Aerosmith, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, and many more.

Diane, who is a vegetarian, is a major advocate for animals and the elderly.

“Diane Warren is one of the most prolific songwriters of our time, and PEN America is thrilled to be recognizing her considerable talents at this year’s LitFest Gala. Her work has always taken an activist’s tone, even more so in recent years. Her songs have transcended the films in which they appear to take on meanings of their own, inspiring generations to be vocal about their beliefs, with Warren’s words offering guidance and reassurance. Her passion for voice, story, and her commitment to justice make Diane a worthy recipient of our Artistic Expression Award.”

Michelle Franke, Executive Director, PEN America Los Angeles