Dionne Warwick to sing in Tiffin on April 9Written by Vicki L. Kroll | | email@example.com
Singing legend Dionne Warwick vividly remembers the first time she performed in front of an audience.
She was 6 years old and the request came from her grandfather, the Rev. Elzae Warrick of St. Luke’s AME Church in Newark, N.J.
“That was the surprise of my life when he called me up to the pulpit and he whispered in my ear, ‘I want you to sing a song for me.’ I thought Grandpa lost it, I really did, you know, why would he do this to me?” she recalled. “And he stood me on a bunch of books, and he wanted me to sing the song I learned at Sunday School called ‘Jesus Loves Me.’
“I closed my eyes so tight, I thought I was going to lose my sight,” Warwick said and laughed.
She received a standing ovation.
The applause continues as the five-time Grammy Award winner nears 50 years in the music business. These days, she keeps her eyes open.
“I think more than anything else [I enjoy] looking down at people’s faces and seeing these huge smiles,” Warwick said. “I get to watch them singing and knowing every single word.”
Fans can see her in concert at 7:30 p.m. April 9 at the Ritz Theatre in Tiffin. Tickets are $75, $65 and $40.
Warwick will sing a few songs from a new disc, “Only Trust Your Heart,” which debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Jazz Chart last month.
“MPCA Records, the company that I’m with, owns the catalog of Sammy Cahn and had been looking for a voice to re-record some of the songs. They sent me a zillion songs to listen to,” she said during a call from her New Jersey home.
Cahn is known as the lyricist for many songs recorded by Frank Sinatra.
“[Sinatra] wasn’t the only one that recorded these songs, but he did the majority of them,” the 70-year-old said. “Sarah Vaughan and Lena Horne were also instrumental in recording some of these songs, as well as Dinah Washington.”
Warwick knows what it’s like to be associated with composers. She was the voice of many hits penned by Burt Bacharach and Hal David: “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Walk on By,” “Alfie,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “Reach Out For Me,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” “Promises, Promises.”
“The songs are — and were — very, very special songs,” she said of her collaboration with the famed team. “Bacharach and David, who wrote specifically for me in the formative years of my career, set the bar pretty high for any other writers that were writing songs for me. And when I did record other songs, they were songs by people who were supportive of my career, songs that had substance — a beginning, a middle, an ending, and a wonderful story to tell.”
Even after Bacharach and David broke up, Warwick’s hits continued: “Then Came You” with The Spinners, “I’ll Never Love This Way Again,” “Déjà Vu,” “Heartbreaker,” “Love Power” with Jeffrey Osborne, “That’s What Friends Are For” with Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.
In addition to some 50 hits, Warwick is known for her style and elegance. In her book, “My Life, As I See It,” which came out in November, she credits her mother: “Mommy expressed the importance of being a ‘lady’ at all times in the ways we dressed, walked, spoke and presented ourselves to the world.”
She said there were other role models, too.
“When I was watching TV as a youngster, watching Loretta Young walk through that door, I was like, ‘Wow — that’s the way everybody should look.’ And then to see people on stage like Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald and Marlene Dietrich and Diahann Carroll, they looked so gorgeous. And I thought, that’s the way I want to be. So this is how I have to look.”
Warwick also includes 50 lessons she’s learned in the book, which she co-wrote with David Freeman Wooley.
One lesson: It’s never too late to pursue a passion.
“I still have the Oscar, the Emmy and the Tony to work for,” she said and laughed.