With material recrafted by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Gladys Knight, Sybil, Isaac Hayes and even Slick Rick (at a small dose) it’s no wonder her material has resonated for generations on end. Despite the popularity others may find in her work, you still have to return to the source for that sauce. “You always have to go back to the original for the essence. Those songs were written for me. It’s like buying a well-tailored dress. Nobody can wear that dress but me,” she says with a matter of fact confidence.
A career close to 60 years as a professional would do that for you. During that span she has managed to become one of the most charted female vocalists of all time, with 56 of her singles making the Billboard Hot 100. She was recently awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award to pair with the six she has garnered over the course of her illustrious career. The type of top shelf work that she’s put in the recording booth and on stage has garnered many plaudits and I’d be willing to wager the unanimous choice of the top two endearing qualities that adhere to her showbusiness persona. We can probably even expand the scope a little, since she just celebrated her 80th birthday on Dec. 12, and go as far as to say since she’s been alive period. One is that she’s the quintessence of class and secondly her talents are uniquely hers. In other words NO ONE sounds like Dionne Warwick.
In addition to her birthday, 2019 has offered a few other reasons for Ms. Warwick to be celebratory. She posted her first Top 3 Billboard R&B album in fifty years with “She’s Back,” and right before the kickoff of the Holiday season she released the second Christmas album of her career with “Dionne Warwick and the Voices of Christmas.” Says Ms. Warwick, “I thank all of my duet partners for joining me on these classics and becoming a new branch of my extended family.” She added, “Christmas is my favorite time of year. Our family travel all over the world and it is the one time that we are all back together in one place.” One family member in particular who is getting an additional artistic boost is her son Damon Elliott, also known as Buck 22, who not only produced “Dionne Warwick & The Voices of Christmas” but her previous project entitled, “She’s Back,” as well. Of her producer for the project she beams, “I noticed his talents long ago with the work he’s done with other artists, and I felt quite comfortable with him in charge of my project. It’s been absolutely incredible and I’m extremely proud of it.”
The 12-song disc features star-studded duets with artists that have excelled in other genres of music but somehow fit into the spirit of what this album embodied. That comes from constant studying the game. “I try to keep up with those that have that musicality that I enjoy listening to. Each song I felt represented the person that was singing with me. I couldn’t think of anybody else to sing ‘White Christmas,’ then Johnny Mathis.” Adding further, “I found myself looking quite a bit at Country Western music, because I’m drawn to the way the music tells a story, so having the Oak Ridge Boys, John Rich and Ricky Skaggs on ‘Jingle Bells’ was fun for me.” Other stellar artists featured on the album include Wanya Morris, Dianne Reeves, Aloe Blacc, Chloe x Halle and Andra Day.
As we went to press it’s been noted that Ms. Warwick has just been added to the list of performers for the most celebrated peace rally in the U.S., “Peace Starts With Me” December 28th at the Prudential Center. Featuring Grammy award winning talent including gospel star Hezekiah Walker, 2019 Soul Train ‘Lady of Soul’ Yolanda Adams, and a 2000 Voice Choir made up of local singers from across the tri-state area under the direction of Emmy award winning producer A. Curtis Farrow. The entertainment will be rounded out by gospel sensations Kim Burrell, Joanne Rosario Condrey, and Orchestra, dancers and much more. The Peace Starts With Me rallies gather thousands of people from a wide variety of national, racial, and religious backgrounds to stand united for peace.
Over and out. Holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.