'70s - Dionne Warwick (2014)
'Let There Be Love: The Dionne Warwick Story, So Far'
Scintillating, soothing and sensual best describe the familiar and legendary voice of five-time GRAMMY® ®Award winning music legend, DIONNE WARWICK, who has become a cornerstone of American pop music and culture.
Warwick’s career, which currently celebrates over 50 years, has established her as an international music icon and concert act. Over that time, she has earned 75 charted hit songs and sold over 100 million records.
She began singing professionally in 1961 after being discovered by a young songwriting team, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. She had her first hit in 1962 with 'Don’t Make Me Over.' Less than a decade later, she had released more than 18 consecutive Top 100 singles, including her classic Bacharach/David recordings, 'Walk on By,' 'Anyone Who Had a Heart,' 'Message to Michael,' 'Promises Promises,' 'A House is Not a Home,' 'Alfie,' 'Say a Little Prayer,' 'This Girl’s in Love With You,' 'I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,' 'Reach Out For Me,' and the theme from Valley of the Dolls.
Together, Warwick and her songwriting team of Burt Bacharach & Hal David, accumulated more than 30 hit singles, and close to 20 best-selling albums, during just their first decade together!
Warwick received her first GRAMMY®Award in 1968 for her mega-hit, 'Do You Know the Way to San Jose?' and a second GRAMMY® in 1970 for the best-selling album, I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.
She also became the first African-American solo female artist of her generation to win the prestigious award for Best Contemporary Female Vocalist Performance. This award was only presented to one other legend, Miss Ella Fitzgerald.
On her brand new album, and her 28th to date, Feels So Good, produced by her son, Damon Elliot, Warwick brings us the quintessential duets album that takes a look both forward and back. Paired with a wide array of guests, such as Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo, Stevie Wonder, Cyndi Lauper, Gladys Knight, Jamie Foxx, CeeLo Green, Ziggy Marley, Eric Paslay, Billy Ray Cyrus, Mýa, and Warwick's granddaughter Cheyenne Elliott, they sing classic hits of hers, revisited like never before.
Chatting recently with the legend herself, Dionne Warwick, I first wondered when the idea for Feels So Good had come to mind? "Actually, it was not my idea. It was my son's idea, Damon Elliott. He also produced the CD. He decided to allow the duet partners to decide the songs of mine that were their favorites to record with me. So, that's how it all came about. I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I was the artist and I stayed in the artist position," she laughs.
Looking at the cover art for the CD, I can only assume that’s your autograph, loud and proud on the front, yes? "I think, most importantly, as opposed to the proverbial photograph, the interest for it should be what's inside the actual case."
So did you agree with the song + artist pairings, or did you have questions? "Well, some of the younger artists on the CD I wondered if they had even heard of the songs that they had chosen," she laughs, "but apparently they did. It was quite interesting to see what they wanted to sing with me."
You’re known as the artist who “bridged the gap,” your songs with their soulful blend of pop, gospel and R&B music transcending race, culture and musical boundaries, and for my money all that is brought loving together on ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head‘ featuring Ziggy Marley. It truly encapsulates all that and more! "I've known Ziggy since he was born. His father and I were friends. Actually, there was one point in time when Bob and I were going to do something together, but unfortunately that never occurred. But when Ziggy called Damon to be a part of this, he insisted that 'Raindrops' was his favorite song and that's what he wanted to do with me. So, that's what we did and, of course, coming from Jamaica and with reggae being his primary idiom, he put a reggae beat to it ... and it turned out wonderfully."
Listen to 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' - featuring Ziggy Marley
Indeed, it's quite like nothing I've ever heard you sing on before! "I know, it's so funny because when Damon read me the list of the people who had called him and wanted to be a part of it, I said, 'Damon, you've got me singing country, you've got me singing R&B, you've got me singing Hip-Hop,' and he said, 'Mom, I told you a long time ago that you had the ability to reach across all spectra of music and I want to show that's what you can do ... and here it is."
Listen to 'Feels So Good' - featuring CeeLo Green
I think my favorite song is the title track, ‘Feels So Good’ featuring CeeLo Green as it showcases your still-youthful vibrancy and passion for music. Do you agree? "I certainly do. I'm thrilled that all the genres show that music is music, as far as I'm concerned. It's what you bring to it that makes it relevant and makes it what it is."
Were you actually in the studio recording your part with the artists face-to-face? "The only way to do the duet is with the person, so yes, we were in the studio."
So how long a period of time did it take to bring all these artists into the studio with you? "It didn't really take too long at all, as a matter of fact. I flew down to Florida and recorded with Ne-Yo, we did the majority of the recordings in Los Angeles, and in New York we did Cyndi."
Was there anything that happened when you were recording these 14 songs with these artists that stands out today to be an amazing moment, perhaps? "I think that the fact that they all came truly prepared was one of the most amazing and fulfilling things that occurred in the studios. I'm sure there's 9,000 other things that also occurred, and that I would share with you, but I can't come up with one single one right now," she laughs.
Your voice, its vocal tone is legendary, but are you noticing any defining changes to it as you get older, perhaps? "Absolutely," she laughs, "a little maturity has happened, but primarily I think I'm still pretty much on point."
This is your 28th album in 50 years, which means you release an album every 20 months, give or take! So, I'm wondering if you will ever slow down? "Well, don't wonder, because I'm going to slow down soon," she laughs. "53 years of consistently doing anything I think deserves a thought or two of slowing down and making it a little less tiring."
So if you take this time off from the business, to recharge the batteries, what would you do? "I have an interior design company that I'm getting ready to let people know that I have. We're quite available to make some magic in your homes, or offices, or your boats, trains, planes, or whatever you have. If they need attending to, we'll be there. So that's what I'm looking forward to getting up and running now."
"We just finished a project about a year ago now, The Black Ensemble Theatre in Chicago. I've been doing this for the past 20 some odd years, and anyone interested can go to my website and take a look at it and see our thoughts and ideas, and how well we do it. The name of the company is WG Design Lab."
So the big question is, if someone hires you to redesign their home, do you yourself actually show up?! "Of course they'll get to see my face," she laughs, "and if they happen to come during the course of knocking down a wall or moving a piece of furniture, they'll see me doing that too. I'm a true believer of being hands on!"
You also have a fragrance out, named, of course, ‘Dionne,’ but it has been said that you created it back in 1986 because "it would be cheaper than buying cases of Shalimar" [by Guerlain]. True? "Exactly," she laughs again. "It resembles Shalimar, to a degree, but with the exception of the dry down. Which is the last thing you smell on a person, once they put it on. And that is a very clean, almost like a baby powder. And everybody loves the smell of babies. So it's a very sexy, clean smelling fragrance, and I love it. There is nothing better."
You seem very active on Twitter, so was diving into the world of social media an easy thing for you? "I have nothing to do at all with it! I basically just learned how to turn my computer on," she loudly laughs. "I'm telling you the God's honest truth. My niece, Britney takes care of my Twitter. She's a youngster who has a lot of fun doing it, and she feels that she's keeping me in people's faces."
You are a five-time Grammy Award winning music legend who has had a very successful career in the business for 50 years now, but is there still one stand out moment from everything you’ve done, everyone you’ve met that serves as your own personal pinnacle of achievement moment, perhaps? "If I had to choose, I would say my first Royal Command Performance when I performed in front of the Queen Mother. It was quite exciting, overwhelming and something that I will never, ever forget. Having the opportunity to be there was amazing."
Having recorded all these wonderful hit songs throughout your career, if they are playing when you go to the store, or at people's houses, are you one to shy away from listening to your own music? "You know, that always seems to happen every time I go to the grocery store," she laughs. "It's so true. I'll be walking into the supermarket and it'll be either the middle of a song or the tail end of it. It never fails to happen that my recordings are put out over their airwaves in that store! It's nice to know though that people still want to listen to me, as they are also being played in all kinds of other situations. You know, supermarkets, elevators, and everywhere else you can possibly imagine."
Do you still have, to this day, one true favorite song of yours to listen to on a Summer's afternoon, perhaps? "All of them," she gently laughs. "Every single one. Those are my children. Those are my babies."
Having done all you have thus far in your career, in your life, is there still anything left out there for you to still want to achieve? "Oh sure. There are plenty yet that I want to achieve: there's the Oscar, the Emmy and the Tony, but not necessarily in that order," she laughs.
So, does that mean you'll be acting soon, perhaps? "Hopefully, yes. There's a project out there now that I'm interested in and somewhere along the line one of these directors will see a glimpse of it and say, 'Oh, I never thought about her. Let's see what she can do.' So, we're just waiting for that to occur."
As we’re not called Exclusive Magazine for nothing, please reveal something about yourself here today that you haven’t told before in any interviews! "I'm a Pepsi girl. I drink Pepsi cola every day. It's even in my rider," she laughs.
We here at Exclusive Magazine love penguins, so we wondered if you did also? "No, I'm not a bird person person, so that's the wrong question to ask me," she laughs.
OK, so what kind of animal person are you? "I'm dogs. I love dogs. Unfortunately, all four of my babies have gone on to Dog Heaven, but I had four pomeranians and they all lived past 20 years old. I lost my last one last month. The little boy was my last baby and he would have been 23 years old. I loved them all like they were my actual living children and I miss them very much."
Finally, and with regards to your new album, Feels So Good, what would you like to say about it to entice people to go out and buy it? "Well, there's something for everybody, that's the first thing. So they won't be able to say, 'Oh, I didn't get a country song' or 'I needed an R&B song,' or I didn't get this, or I didn't get that. There's something for every single person, right across the genres of music. But, most importantly, the title kinda speaks for what it is. It will make them feel good."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED FEELS SO GOOD CD, just answer this question about the lady herself: Which of these marks Dionne's first public singing appearance?
1. Singing "Jesus Loves Me" at her grandfather's church
2. Singing on a local radio show
3. Singing in a school talent contest
4. Touring with her mother's gospel group
Send us your answers (one (1) email per guess, if you feel the need!) and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win an AUTOGRAPHED FEELS SO GOOD CD from the music legend herself, Dionne Warwick. Just send us an e:mail here before January 1st, 2015 with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: DIONNE WARWICK SIGNED CDs to: email@example.com
'Feels So Good' CD Purchase Link