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Kara Dioguardi Biography

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Birth Name: Kara Dioguardi
Born: 12/09/1970
Birth Place: Scarsdale, New York, USA

Born Kara Elizabeth DioGuardi in Westchester, NY on Dec. 9, 1970, she was the daughter of Joseph J. DioGuardi, a one-time member of the New York House of Representatives. She showed a fascination for music at an early age, and was performing for audiences before she was a teenager, including a stint at the Waldorf Astoria in New York at the age of 12. After graduating from Duke University with a political science degree, she went to work selling ads for Billboard in 1993 while performing after hours with a wide variety of bands. After a brief and largely unheralded stint as a recording artist, she settled into the role of songwriter and doggedly shopped her material to anyone who would hear it. Eventually, she found an ear with producers looking for light pop-rock with a personal edge; among her earliest hits was the single "Spinning Around," which she produced and co-wrote in 2000 with future "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul. Its leap to No. 1 on the UK charts led to similar work with a wide variety of pop acts hovering just below the radar, including Jessica Simpson, Enrique Iglesias, and manufactured girl band Eden's Crush. In each case, her efforts yielded Top 10 hits.

In 2002, DioGuardi was tapped by Celine Dion to contribute the single "Right in Front of You" to her chart-topping comeback CD, A New Day Has Come. Perhaps sensing the need to balance the Vegas-sized production of Dion's music, she wrote and produced the majority of Kelly Osbourne's surprise hit of a debut album, Shut Up. By 2003, she had landed one of her first major songwriting awards, the BMI Cable Award for the theme to the short-lived Lifetime series "For the People" (2002-03). More successful production and songwriting work soon followed, including a reunion with Dion and tracks by teen sensations Hilary Duff, Clay Aiken and Britney Spears.

The year 2004 was one of DioGuardi's biggest yet; her name appeared in the credits for such mega-successful albums as Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway, Ashlee Simpson's Autobiography and Gwen Stefani's Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Her association with Clarkson led to more assignments for future "American Idol" winners, so she was soon putting her imprint on tunes for Katharine McPhee, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks. The recording industry also took note of her skill at crafting hits, and bestowed seven of its most prestigious awards on her, including two Pop Music Awards for her work with Stefani and Simpson in 2006 and five in 2007, including Songwriter of the Year and Pop Music Awards for songs by Clarkson and Santana, among others. She also added Grammy nominee to her list of achievements with a 2007 nod for her work on Spanish teen idol Belinda's track, "Bella Tracion."

DioGuardi soon settled into a more or less permanent status as one of the go-to songwriters for solo acts in the pop/R&B vein. Her resume in 2006 and 2007 alone counted such superstars as Pink, Christina Aguilera, Faith Hill, and the reunited Backstreet Boys, who returned to the upper strata of the charts thanks to her. And she found particular favor with the Disney crowd by penning and producing hits for Miley Cyrus in her TV alter ego of Hannah Montana, Ashley Tisdale from the "High School Musical" franchise, and songs by the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato for the TV musical "Camp Rock" (Disney Channel, 2008).

In addition to her songwriting and producing efforts, DioGuardi also owned and operated Arthouse Entertainment, a publishing company that provided compositions and other resources for artists and record companies. Among its success stories were hits for Nick Lachey, R&B singer Cassie, and "American Idol" runner-up David Archuleta, which prompted Billboard to place the company at No. 7 on its list of Top Ten national music publishers. DioGuardi also contributed compositions to numerous national ad campaigns, television series like "Will and Grace" (NBC, 1999-2006) and "The Biggest Loser" (NBC, 2004- ), and feature films including "A Cinderella Story" (2004) and "Get Smart" (2008). She later served as Senior Vice President of A&R at Warner Bros. Records, though none of her signings seemed to reflect her impressive knack for bringing out the best in performers.

With over 264 of her songs placed on major album releases worldwide - with 165 of those on multi-platinum selling albums - one could have assumed that DioGuardi's plate was more than full with assignments. But in 2008, the producers of "American Idol" announced that in order to mix things up, she was joining its panel of iconic judges as part of the show's eighth season in 2009. Despite early press that Paula Abdul had expressed concern over losing her status as sole female judge - and, one might surmise, her growing obsolescence in the face of mounting negative reports over her behavior - DioGuardi meshed well with Abdul, Randy Jackson and the permanently appalled Simon Cowell at the New York auditions in 2008. Critics expressed in no uncertain terms their hopes that the fresh blood provided by DioGuardi's presence would boost the show's flagging appeal.