By Jeremy Miles
AMERICAN singing star Dionne Warwick says that after nearly half a century on the road she’s beginning to think about retirement or at least slowing down.
The 67-year-old who brings her My Music and Me show to the Bournemouth Pavilion on Thursday night tells me that she’s seriously considering hanging up her microphone.
“I’m getting a bit tired of running around the world. Its been absolutely wonderful for me and it’s something I will definitely miss but I’m going to slow down a little. I have to. It’s been 48 years of just running, running, running, running and the time has come when I need to have a little bit of time for me.”
Warwick stresses that she still very much enjoys performing but, at the age of 67, feels the time has come to take stock.
Warwick was talking just days after the death of her younger sister and one-time backing singer, Dee Dee, and was clearly in reflective mood.
Dee Dee’s death at the age of 63 has hit Warwick hard. On her website she told the many fans who had sent condolences: “I’m finally beginning to deal with my sister’s transition… I’m now asking each of you who kept Dee Dee in prayer to now keep me in prayer that my faith and strength will help me to continue on and that each day will be easier for me to understand.”
It is perhaps comforting that such a difficult personal period coincides with a touring show that offers an overview of a magical career that started back in the early 1960s.
The production which Warwick describes as “a chance to get a glimpse of my career over four decades” tells her remarkable story in a mixture of anecdotes, recollections and, of course, music.
Her big break came when, as a young session singer, she met the soon to be award-winning writing duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Together the three racked up 30 hit singles and nearly 20 best-selling albums.
The big sellers included such classics as Do You Know the Way to San Jose?, I’ll Never Fall in Love Again, This Girl’s in Love with You and Heartbreaker. Warwick says the chemistry was instantly obvious to all three of them. “We were lucky to meet each other. I was doing a background session when I met Burt.
“It just so happened that he’d just met Hal and they asked if I would sing on some demos. It was how our careers all began.
“We each brought a particular expertise to the table. Hal wrote lyrics, Burt wrote melodies and I interpreted them.”
Today as she talks about her life and sings those same songs on stage she says she loves seeing the obvious pleasure they still bring to her fans.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to look out into an audience and see huge smiles or watch people as they sing along with me.”
She refuses to name a personal favourite among her extensive catalogue, saying: “They’re all personal favourites. I treat my songs like my children. I couldn’t choose one over another.”
Not surprising then that Warwick has been known to get quite protective about her material.
For instance, there weren’t a lorra laffs when, early in her career, a young Cilla Black chose to record Anyone Who Had a Heart just as Warwick’s version was poised to hit the big-time.
Cilla’s strident scouse vocal went straight to number one leaving Warwick’s infinitely more stylish and sophisticated reading languishing well outside the top 20.
“I understand you were pretty unhappy about that at the time,” I say.
“I was unhappy then and I still am,” she replied curtly, adding that she “had words” with Cilla at the time. Frankly she does not seem in much of a mood to forgive or forget.
“So I guess Cilla’s not on your Christmas card list,” I say, trying to make light of the situation. “It’s all included in the show – you have to come to the theatre to hear the real story,” she says.
Dionne roots for Obama. ‘He will revitalise America’ says singer
By Jeremy Miles
Veteran American singer Dionne Warwick is rooting for Barack Obama to romp to victory in today’s US Presidential elections.
Warwick, who is in the UK with the show Me and My Music which plays the Bournemouth Pavilion next week, tells me she got her vote in early and will be watching the elections on TV.
She says she’s convinced that Obama can revitalise America, saying: “It’s going take a minute or two to pull it together but once we have a change of guard I think there’s going to be a complete turnaround.”
The significance of fighting to put America’s first black president into the White House will not be lost on Warwick who, 40 years ago, became the first African American solo artist to win a Grammy for Best Contemporary Female Vocal Performance.
The song in question, Do You Know the Way to San Jose? was one of a string of hits, sung by Warwick and penned by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, that propelled her to stardom back in the 60s.
Me and My Music includes those songs – classic numbers like Walk On By, Anyone Who Had a Heart and Don’t Make Me Over – plus many more and anecdotes from 67-year-old Warwick’s long career.
Dionne Warwick plays the Pavilion Theatre on Thursday November 13.