Life is wonderful: Dionne Warwick busy but happy
Concert stages aren’t the only place people will be seeing Dionne Warwick.
In addition to her touring schedule, which includes a concert Friday at Powers Auditorium, Warwick will be the subject of an upcoming episode of PBS’s “American Masters” series, and a bio film based on her autobiography, “My Life, As I See It,” should start filming soon.
“I think it’s wonderful to be able to remember and feel good about remembering,” Warwick said during a telephone interview from her home in New Jersey.
LeToya Luckett, formerly of Destiny’s Child, will play Warwick in the feature and do her own singing, trying to recreate the voice and vocal phrasing of an artist who had 22 top 40 hits from 1963 to 1970, including “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Walk on By,” “Say a Little Prayer,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” (for which she won the first of her five Grammy Awards), “This Girl’s in Love with You” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”
“She’s a wonderful singer,” Warwick said. “I won’t have to sing. I’ll just be consulting.”
The word “wonderful” comes up frequently in the 15-minute conversation, whether she’s talking about those film and documentary projects, her collaborators (Ne-Yo, Cyndi Lauper, Ziggy Marley, Billy Ray Cyrus) on her 2014 album “Feels So Good” or the many accolades she’s received in her career.
While her trophy case is filled with Grammy, American Music, People’s Choice, NAACP Image and other prizes, Warwick said one honor stands out.
“My grammar school was renamed for me in East Orange, N.J. That’s the most amazing thing that could happen. It’s a permanent situation.”
Warwick grew up surrounded by music in her New Jersey home.
“I grew up in a gospel singing family,” she said. “Music always was a part of our lives and on the radio I listened to all kinds of music … I feel I’m a mix of every voice I’ve ever heard. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
No one used that voice better than songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who penned many of her biggest hits. She refers to their professional relationship as “the one triangle marriage that worked.” And unlike many of her contemporaries, who had little artistic control over their careers, Warwick said she had an equal voice in interpreting those songs.
“They depended upon me to deliver the work to the ear. I was never told how to deliver a song. That was left for me to do.”
Those Bacharach-David songs will be a part of the setlist when she performs in Youngstown.
“I hope they experience songs they’ve grown to love over the years, as I have, and a couple they may not have heard me sing before. I look at it being a wonderful, well-rounded experience.”