Q&A: Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick is a legend in the true sense of the word. With a career spanning an incredible 50 years, she is a bonafide Grammy-winning singer, philanthropist, humanitarian and activist. She is celebrating her 50th year in show business with the release of her new CD Now, She’s re-teamed with Burt Bacharach and Phil Ramone to re-record many of her famous and classic tunes such as “Make It Easy On Yourself,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” and “Don’t Make Me Over,” plus a new song entitled “Is There Anybody Out There?” She indeed proves that she has what it takes to maintain one’s self in the entertainment industry.

Soultraincom: Ms. Warwick, welcome to Soultrain.com! You have a new studio album, which commemorates your 50th anniversary in show business. What was it like working again with Phil Ramone, with whom you had many hits early in your career?

Dionne Warwick:  Working with Phil again was a joy and revisiting songs that I recorded in the early part of my career was also filled with great memories. It was an absolute joy to look out of the singer’s booth and look at Phil Ramone’s face again. It was wonderful. The same songs that were written specifically for me by the two men that we are paying homage to–as well throughout our careers–collide, it was wonderful.

Soultrain.com: We lost Hal David recently, the gentleman who wrote a lot of your early hits. What would you like to say in his memory?

DW: He was a joy to work with, an absolute joy. He was the epitome of the gentle man. He wrote such beautiful words for me and I’m very grateful for that.

Soultrain.com: The world also lost Marvin Hamlisch, another genius with whom you worked. What was it like working with him?

DW: Marvin was a friend and he was a wonderful musician that I enjoyed working with in our industry and I will miss his musical contributions.

Soultrain.com: Naturally, you love all of the tunes on the new album, but are there any particular favorites that stand out?

DW: I never have a favorite of any of the songs I record, as I treat each one like my children. I don’t have a favorite child, as they both are my favorites.

Soultrain.com: You are back on the road, embarking on a worldwide tour to commemorate your 50th anniversary in show business. How does it feel to have been in the entertainment industry for so many years?

DW: To be able to celebrate such a milestone is wonderful, and I thank all who have been supportive of these 50 years.

Soultrain.com: Being recently inducted into the Grammy Museum must be a high honor for you.

DW: Being inducted into the Grammy Museum was a major highlight in my career, and I feel truly honored by this being done!

Soultrain.com: You worked with Soul Train creator Don Cornelius. You appeared on his show twice. You also co-hosted the first Soul Train Music Awards, and then again for the next three years. What was that like for you?

DW: I am proud to say that Don and I created the Soul Train Music Awards Show, and it was and still is a high point in my career to not only have been one of the creators of the show but to also have had the opportunity to appear on it.

Soultrain.com: What would you like to say in memory of both Don Cornelius and Dick Clark, another legend with whom you worked with?

DW: Both of those men played an important part in my career by giving me exposure to audiences that have became and are still my audiences. They both were friends and are truly missed.

Soultrain.com: You have recorded so many songs about love and romance. Although music changes with every generation, what do you think of how a lot of the lyrics in today’s music are very direct and vulgar and are less about love and more about lust and profanity?

DW: They’re meaningless, absolutely meaningless. I don’t know what is going through a lot of these young peoples’ minds. It’s sad. It’s really sad.

Soultrain.com: In the recording industry during the sixties on back, and even going into the eighties, there was a degree of class in the music, and you’ve always had class in your music.  Do you think someday that will come back?

DW: I certainly hope so. One of the reasons I recorded this CD is to garner some younger ears and bring everything into the 21st century, so they can get a sense of movement but also so they have some wonderful songs to hear.  Their ears deserve it. I think we are making our way slowly towards that avenue.

Soultrain.com:  You have worked with and recorded songs with so many people. Is there anyone you haven’t worked with that you want to work with in terms of doing a CD or performing in concert?

DW: Earth, Wind & Fire.

Soultrain.com: Do you think we will ever see you record a CD with other legendary songstresses such as Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight?

DW: When our schedules permit, I am sure we will eventually record together as both ladies are dear friends.

Soultrain.com: Is there anything in the entertainment industry that you want to do that you haven’t done yet?

DW: I hope to do works that will garner the Oscar, Emmy and the Tony.

Soultrain.com: You are a champion in the fight against AIDS and world hunger. Are there any other causes that you are looking to become a part of?

DW: The AIDS and hunger projects are truly taking the time that I have to give, not to say that I don’t do work with other issues of health but these are my primary causes at the moment.

Soultrain.com: Do you have a word of wisdom you want to share with readers?

DW: My mantra, something I live by: If you think it, you can do it.

For more information about Dionne Warwick, visit www.dionnewarwick.info.

- Stephen McMillian

Stephen McMillian is a journalist, writer, actor, filmmaker, dancer, Soul Train historian and soul music historian.

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