Kara Elizabeth DioGuardi (born December 9, 1970) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, music publisher, A&R executive composer and TV personality. She writes music primarily in the light pop-rock,dance, and R&B genres. DioGuardi has worked with many popular artists; her songs have appeared on more than 159 million albums worldwide. Kara is a Grammy nominated writer, 2011 NAMM Music For Life Award winner, 2009 NMPA Songwriter Icon Award winner, 2007 BMI Pop Songwriter of the Year, and has received 15 BMI Awards for co-writing the most performed songs on the radio.
DioGuardi served as a judge on American Idol for it's eighth and ninth seasons. In 2008 she was appointed to the position of executive vice president of talent development at Warner Bros. Records, and has signed acts such as Jason Derülo and Iyaz.
DioGuardi was born in Ossining, New York. She is of Albanian (Arbëresh) and Italian descent. She is the daughter of Carol Asselta and former Republican Congressman Joseph J. DioGuardi. Her mother died in 1997 after a 7-year battle with ovarian cancer.
Kara grew up in the Wilmot Woods section of suburban New Rochelle, New York and attended kindergarten at the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Scarsdale, New York, followed by The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York, before earning a degree in political science at Duke University. After graduating from college, she worked for Billboard magazine selling advertising.
She is a cousin of the veteran TV personality Regis Philbin.
DioGuardi was vocalist for the group Mad Doll who released one self-titled album in 1999.
While her early solo and band efforts did not result in commercial success, she became a highly sought-after songwriter, writing or co-writing many international hit songs from 1999 to today (see discographies and awards below). To date, she has had 39 albums in the Top 10 on Billboard's 200 album chart. Her songs are on over 100 million records. The majority of her songs have been recorded by American female artists in the pop/rock genre, with a significant minority of songs recorded by Australian females, and Latin music artists. DioGuardi can be heard performing backup vocals on some of these recordings.Kara also co-wrote song for the American pop girl group the Pussycat Dolls like "Beep", "I Don't Need A Man" in PCD(album). While in Doll Domination she co-wrote "Love The Way You Love Me".
DioGuardi also helped write the song "Not Meant To Be" with Tyler Connolly which appears on Theory of a Deadman's 2008 album, Scars & Souvenirs. She is also featured as the love interest in the music video which was released on March 10, 2009. This was her debut in the music video industry.
In 2009, she co-wrote a song called Temporary with Nick Lachey and producer Mitch Allan for Nick's upcoming CD, Coming Up for Air; the two recorded it as a duet.
DioGuardi co-owns Arthouse Entertainment, a publishing company that is a resource business for record companies and other music entities seeking compositions, productions, artists, and related music services. Arthouse has been a part of many chart-topping hits including Cassie's "Me & U" (written and produced by Ryan Leslie), Jim Jones' "We Fly High" (written and produced by Zukhan Bey), Nick Lachey's "What's Left of Me", David Archuleta's single "Crush" (written and produced by Eman Kiriakou), Mika's "Grace Kelly" and also OneRepublic's "Apologize" and "Stop and Stare" (all produced by Greg Wells), Faith Hill's "Lost" (written and produced by Kara DioGuardi and Mitch Allan), Sober by P!nk and "Pieces of Me" by Ashlee Simpson. Also Boom Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas.
She joined the hit Fox television show American Idol as a fourth Judge for the show's eighth season (January 13, 2009). In an interview, Simon Cowell stated that all 4 judges are coming back next season. She has had Idol connections in the past: in 2000, DioGuardi and fellow Idol judge Paula Abdul co-wrote the UK number-one single "Spinning Around", performed by Kylie Minogue. She has written many songs sung by Idol winners and alumni such as Kelly Clarkson, David Archuleta, David Cook, Carrie Underwood, Diana DeGarmo, Katharine McPhee, and Kris Allen.
DioGuardi left the show in September 2010 after two seasons.
Awards and Nominations
In 2003, DioGuardi won a BMI Cable Award for cowriting and performing, Somethin' To Say, the theme to the now-cancelled Lifetime Television series For the People, which starred Lea Thompson, Debbi Morgan, A. Martinez and Cecilia Suarez. In 2007, she was named BMI's "Pop Songwriter of the Year" for 2006, as she had accumulated ten BMI awards in the previous four years for having written the "most performed songs on the radio." To date, she has had over 46 albums in the Top 10 on Billboard magazine's 200 album chart. Her songs are on various hit albums that have collectively sold over 100 million copies.
In 2007, DioGuardi was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the category of Best Song for her writing on the Belinda single, "Bella Traición" along with co-writers Belinda, Ben Moody, Nacho Peregrin and producer Mitch Allan. In November 2007, Kara was awarded the TAXI A&R award for Humanitarian of the Year at their annual Road Rally Convention
DioGuardi served as head judge on a singer-songwriter reality competition show called Platinum Hit, which aired on Bravo.
DioGuardi married general contractor Mike McCuddy, whom she had been dating since 2007, on July 5, 2009 in Prospect Harbor, Maine. The couple have a son, Grayson, who was born on January 31, 2013 via gestational carrier. The couple had made the decision to use a surrogate due to infertillity issues and unsuccessful in vitro fertilization attempts.
DioGuardi recently opened up in April 2013 about having a full hysterectomy after finding out that she is a carrier for the BRCA2 gene mutation, which is linked to both hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. She has been praised by many for her openness and honesty on the subject.
DioGuardi married general contractor Mike McCuddy, whom she had been dating since 2007, on July 5, 2009. The couple have a son, Grayson, who was born via gestational carrier on January 31, 2013.