A Conversation With Dionne Warwick
Dionne Warwick is one of the greatest female vocalists of all time. She has 75 hit songs and has sold more than 100 million albums. From Barry Manilow to Burt Bacharach, she’s worked with the best in the business and won five Grammy awards along the way.
Her new album coming out September 2, Feels So Good, is a collection of duets with some of the most talented musicians in the industry, including Cyndi Lauper, Gladys Knight, Mya, and Jaime Foxx, just to name a few.
Dionne is also currently touring and I’m attending her August 15 performance in Atlantic City, NJ at Revel Casino, so stay tuned for my review of the show. For more information on additional dates, make sure to visit her official website.
Below is my interview with Dionne Warwick about her illustrious career that has spanned more than 50 years. I hope you enjoy it.
2015 marks the 30th anniversary of your rendition of “That’s What Friends Are For” with Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder. Knowing that this single was originally sung by Rod Stewart, what led to the decision to have multiple vocalists appear on your now timeless version of this song?
The song dictated it. It’s about friends, and all on the recording are friends.
Your most recent album, Now, was nominated for a Grammy award in the category of “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.” After more than 50 years in the music business, how does it feel to still be recognized by your peers for the great music you produce?
In a word – WONDERFUL.
In your autobiography – My Life, As I See It – you stated that you seriously consideredquitting being a performer in 1976 to become a music teacher. But then you met Clive Davis. What did he say to convince you to stay?
To quote him, “You may be ready to give the business up but the business is not ready to give you up.”
After signing with Arista, Clive asked you to consider having Barry Manilow write for and produce your debut album on the label. How did you initially react to this request and what did you think of Barry when you sat down with him for the first time?
Barry is a wonderful producer and convinced me that he was the one, and I trusted his ability. And as is said, the rest is history.
Some of your most impressive music was produced during your time at Arista. While you provide fans with a great overview of your career at your concerts, have you considered dusting off classics like “No Night So Long” and “How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye” and adding them to your setlist?
Eventually, I intend to do a five-hour concert and sing every song I’ve ever recorded. Seriously, I will be putting some of those into my shows.
You have a new album coming out, Feels So Good, and it feature all-star duets with artists such as Ne-Yo, Cee Lo Green, and Billy Ray Cyrus. What what was it like working with these artists on this album?
It was terrific working with these very talented folks.
For many years you’ve used your music to help those in need. For example, you recorded “One World One Song” for the Hunger Project and “Starlight” for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. What do these projects mean to you?
I was taught that we are all put here to be of service to each other. And I feel if my talent can serve that purpose then it’s easy to do.
On Only Trust Your Heart and Sings Cole Porter you beautifully covered material by two of the most influential songwriters of all time, Sammy Cahn and, of course, Cole Porter. When approaching music by songwriters with such large bodies of work, how did you determine which songs to include on the albums and which to leave off?
It wasn’t easy but I found doing ones that I was familiar with was the way to go.
“Don’t Make Me Over” was your first of more than 30 hit songs with Burt Bacharach and Hal David. What was it like working with this dynamic musical duo?
When one works with the best what else can be said?
In 2003 a gorgeous song you recorded entitled “Think About Me” appeared on the Ana Bettz album Freedom. What was it like performing this song with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra?
Symphony orchestras are great to work with and lend colors that sometimes give audiences something different to hear. I enjoy working with them.
You regularly sing with your son, David Elliott, on tour and your other son, Damon, is producing your new album, Feels So Good. What’s it like collaborating with them on musical projects?
The best feeling a parent can have is to work along side their children.
In 1986 you, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight teamed up for the TV special Sisters in the Name of Love. Have the three of you ever talked about reuniting for another TV special, album or tour?
We have talked about it. Time and schedules will be the deciding factor.
Luther Vandross produced your 1983 album How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye and performed with you on the title track, which went on to be a Top 10 Adult Contemporary and R&B single. What was it like working with him on this project?
Exceptional. He was and remains very dear to me. He was more family than friend and I, like the world, miss him.