Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, music legend Dionne Warwick will perform two concerts from her home, which you can watch from the comfort of your own home. The two concerts can be seen on Mandolin.com. You can find more information about the events by clicking here.
Owing to the pandemic, it has been a year since the legendary singer has given a live performance. Ms. Warwick has been with us previously on CYInterview. Now, she joins us once again, prior to returning to sing for a live audience.
Dionne chatted with us about everything from this weekend’s scheduled performances to Cardi B; her song for the James Bond film Thunderball, which did not make its way into the movie; why she does not like her famous hit Do You Know the Way to San Jose; her three-way collaboration with Hal David and Burt Bacharach and how she would like to return to performing at Caesars Palace, here in Las Vegas.
You can listen to the CYInterview or read the transcript of this fascinating conversation, in its entirety, below:
Listen to the entire Dionne Warwick CYInterview:
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Listen to the entire Dionne Warwick CYInterview on YouTube:
Chris Yandek: I’m Chris Yandek. Featured columnist Jay Bildstein is with me. Today on CYInterview, if you do one thing this Easter Sunday, you should spend it with our next guest, one of music’s greatest stars. Dionne Warwick will be performing two concerts that you can watch from your own home this Sunday. Dionne, thanks so much for being back with us on CYInterview, how are you?
Dionne Warwick: I’m wonderful. How about yourself?
Chris Yandek: Oh, we’re doing great over here. It’s just always such a joy when we get to have you on and talk with you about so many great, different things. To begin, we will have a few links on this page on CYInterview to direct people to where people can watch you perform on Sunday on Mandolin.com, but what are your thoughts about this? Can you give us a little preview of what people can be expecting this Sunday?
Dionne Warwick: Well, I’ll be in my living room and hopefully I’ll be in a lot of other people’s living rooms. Just, basically, because it’s been a complete year since I’ve even thought about singing anything or using these vocal chords, which I hope, that even though there will be a couple of squeaks here and there, but, you know, that goes along with not exercising that muscle. I’ll be doing some songs that I’m excited to sing and we’ll be doing a few that I went back in the catalog and answered a few requests that were made to sing. Just an afternoon and evening of songs.
Chris Yandek: The last year has been challenging for everyone around the world. What has the last year been like for you?
Dionne Warwick: Well, to tell you, to be perfectly honest with you, I really used it as a vacation that I’ve never had. You know, I’m on the road 90 percent of my life. And this year, was the first time that I’ve spent this much time in my home. I got to sleep in my own bed, which is wonderful. Go up into my kitchen and fix whatever I wanted to eat, the way I wanted to eat it as opposed to the way it was served to me. It’s been a year of refocusing and getting back to Dionne. So I’ve been enjoying this year for me.
Chris Yandek: Well, we miss you here in Las Vegas. Do you want to be back at Caesars Palace at somewhere in the future? Is that the plan to come back here and perform shows again at some point?
Dionne Warwick: Yes. If I’m invited, yes I will.
Chris Yandek: Well, we hope to see you here because it was a great year and a half when you were here at Bally’s and Caesars Palace and I think everybody was just enjoying coming in to see you. Jay, go ahead.
Jay Bildstein: Dionne, so great to be speaking with you. I do have something that’s really been on my mind and I’m so glad that we could have you on. You created a lot of buzz online with your interaction with Cardi B. And when you did, I couldn’t help but think of Tony Bennett performing with Lady Gaga. Is there any chance in the future you might reach out to Cardi B and say, “Hey, let’s collaborate”?
Dionne Warwick: Well, why not. You know, she responded to me and as did Chance the Rapper, which I am doing something with at this point and time. He’s, in fact, I should have his portion of the song that we’re gonna be doing within the next 10 days. And I’ll be putting my voice on track with him. And sometime this summer, that will be released and out. So, you know, I’m having a wonderful time interfacing with the babies as I call them and how they are reacting to me as I’m reacting back with them learning an awful lot about them and they seem to know an awful lot about me which is wonderful to know.
Jay Bildstein: Well, you know, it was very gratifying to me personally because I’m a lot closer to you in age than I am to Cardi B. And when I saw her reaction to you, you know tweeting her, you were tweeting her about her authenticity and all, how she was blown away by you know, being contacted by you, being tweeted at by you and I thought that was very heartening, because I think it’s always good when people can appreciate different musical styles, different genres, different eras of music, no?
Dionne Warwick: Yup. I totally agree with you. You know, that, you know, I have, you know, I’ve been now crowned the Queen of Twitter, which I find quite amusing. But it’s really a bunch of fun. I’m getting reactions from these babies that they seem to want to hear from me and want to know what I have to say. You know, I don’t do this on a daily basis. I don’t get up in the morning and say, “Hey, I gotta tweet.” You know, I did when, I feel I want to say something to whatever it is that I have on my mind at that time or just say something that might encourage and put a smile on people’s faces. And I’m giggling an awful lot with these babies, I really am. It’s wonderful.
Jay Bildstein: Well, I find it very interesting and I think it’s kind of a great pop culture moment. But speaking of the past, I never knew and I always like to find out something new before we, you know, speak to someone who, you know, like yourself, who you know, goodness who knows how many times you’ve been interviewed and asked the same questions. So perhaps I can come up with something that you haven’t been asked, at least recently. James Bond, the soundtrack for Thunderball. You recorded a song, Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and there’s a tie-in there with Dame Shirley Bassey and later on in this whole thing with Sir Tom Jones. Could you speak about that for a moment?
Dionne Warwick: Well, basically I was brought into England by the company that does most of the Bond films. And John Barry who was, is the composer and orchestrator of most of those particular songs at the time. So we did the song Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I recorded it and for whatever reason, they thought that wasn’t the song they wanted to use as the title for the film Thunderball. So the result of that, as a matter of fact, John felt so bad about it that the production company brought me all the way over to England for no reason, I received my first puppy, which was a Pomeranian and I named him Bang Bang. So out of it, I did receive something that was absolutely wonderful. That was my baby puppy.
Jay Bildstein: What I find and that’s a very, very, you know, who would have ever thought such a thing. It really gives a human face to the music business. I think sometimes people think that the business of music is just all cold and calculated and what’ll sell. And so that’s something very nice that I haven’t heard anywhere.
Dionne Warwick: Yeah.
Jay Bildstein: As I have read it, supposedly Shirley Bassey first recorded the song, they thought it was too long and she wasn’t available to come back and she had done I believe for Goldfinger, she sang the iconic song for Goldfinger. So, they reached out to you and you did it. And then like you said, for some reason, they said, “No. We’re not gonna go with this.” Then they brought in Tom Jones who did a song called Thunderball, same name as the movie.
Dionne Warwick: That’s true.
Jay Bildstein: Have you performed over your storied career with either Shirley Bassey or Tom Jones?
Dionne Warwick: Oh, with Tom Jones, of course. We’re basically of the same era. Shirley, I met Shirley and we became best friends as a matter of fact. I’ve seen her perform, but I’ve never performed with her.
Jay Bildsten: Gotcha. Gotcha. Well, she’s, you know, you and Tom I guess are the same generation, the same age. Shirley is older of course. Some phenomenal, phenomenal music came out of the 1960s, but I did read one song and I don’t know if this is true, you know, you read so much stuff online that, Do You Know the Way to San Jose is not really one of the favorite songs you’ve ever done. Is that true?
Dionne Warwick: That’s really true. I did not want to record that song at all. I just felt that after this incredible roaring set, Hal David had me sing, that he would ever write a song with whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. And I just didn’t know, this is not, no, I don’t think so. But because of his love of San Jose and he just decided, ‘’Dionne, you have to sing this song.” And I felt because of my love for him, I tried it, yes I’ll do it the best way I can and you know, to tell you, I don’t really have a criteria for what I should be recording, what I shouldn’t or what a hit is or isn’t. Because as a result of it, I literally cried all the way to the bank. What can I tell you. It’s one of my biggest recordings.
Jay Bildstein: Well, it’s a nice reason to have to cry.
Dionne Warwick: Absolutely.
Jay Bildstein: It’s interesting because the reaction of fans and the reaction of the artist can be so different. I remember for a time that Robert Plant, the lead singer for Led Zeppelin.
Dionne Warwick: Yes.
Jay Bildstein: He just didn’t want to sing Stairway to Heaven because he’d sang it so much. He’s just like, I can’t put anything into this emotionally anymore. Have you ever had a moment Dionne, where you felt gee whiz, I’ve done this song so many times, it’s just hard to pull something out of myself and invest it with the emotion I want?
Dionne Warwick: No. That I’ve never done. You know, I completely realize that because of these particular recordings, I am who I am and those people who have supported my career for that long feel that that’s what they want to hear. So I have never said, no, I can’t sing this song because of any reason than. I have to sing. It’s the reason that I am who I am.
Jay Bildstein: Well, I think that makes an awful lot of sense and it’s certainly true. You mentioned Hal David, rest in peace. Have you had any interaction with, in later years, with Burt Bacharach?
Dionne Warwick: Well, absolutely. We still stay in touch. You know, Hal, Burt and I were, ended up being more than friends. We became family. We were known in the industry as the triangle marriage. That worked and you know, I’ve watched their children grow as they’ve watched mine. We’ve put our feet under each other’s dining tables at one time or another. So our relationship has never waned. You know, there were problems for periods of time and that was a legal problem. But you know, with that, you know, true friendships never die.
Jay Bildstein: You in effect may be considered part of popular music’s first throuple, as they call it today right? The three of you together.
Dionne Warwick: (Laughs)
Jay Bildstein: What a power team that really was. What a hit making team. But besides being teamed up with people of tremendous consequence in the music business, you come from a family of extraordinary talent and talents in your family. Have you ever, it’s hard to think, we who are on the outside looking in as fans or reporting on the music business, it’s different for us. But somebody like yourself, you ever sit back sometime, go out to your garden or what have you and think, look at my family. Look at everybody in my family who’s been such a phenomenal talent. Do you ever think about that or is it just, hey, this is just us?
Dionne Warwick: Well, basically, it’s just us. You know, I truly know that my family and God are blessed to have the voices that we were given by our heavenly father. And as along as we use them properly, that’s basically what we will continue to do. I come from an incredible singing family. Everybody in my family sings. And anyone who saw my show at Caesars found that to be true. You know, I have my son who plays drums for me in my quartet. My granddaughter, his daughter, also now is performing with me on stage and singing extremely great. My sister was an incredible singer. God rest her soul. My mom and her sisters and brothers were gospel singers. So, it’s nothing that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Jay Bildstein: Indeed. And you know what, I’ll close with this, you are such a nice human being. And I think sometimes people perceive, you know, they think in terms of divas, they think in terms of wow, you know, this person is this kind of unapproachable entity, that’s one of the greatest stars in the history of popular music. And besides all that, you’re just such a nice, accessible person and I think that says a lot about you, I think it says a lot about your family, how you were raised and your perspective on life and really it’s always a pleasure to have you with us.
Dionne Warwick: Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate that. You know, I’m a people person, you know, the business I’m in requires that first of all. And if you don’t like focusing, I don’t think you should be in show business really. You know.
Jay Bildstein: Makes sense.
Chris Yandek: Dionne, two last questions. There have been some news recently that there’s going to be a series possibly on your life, possibly distributed through Netflix. Can you give us any new information?
Dionne Warwick: Yeah. Well, there hasn’t been, the i’s have not been dotted or the t’s crossed regarding Netflix. There have been other entities, have shown interest in the possibility of doing this. So, we’re kind of waiting to see who drops the biggest ball in the court.
Chris Yandek: Do you think it will become a reality though?
Dionne Warwick: Oh absolutely. No doubt. It’s been a lot of people making overtures. So we’ll figure it out soon, hopefully.
Chris Yandek: And then finally, something we didn’t get to talk about in our first CYInterview with you, a few years ago, do you have any message to your fans, anything you’d like to say to them?
Dionne Warwick: Other than thank you. You know, it’s been phenomenal. It’s almost 60 years now that I’ve been in the industry. And to know that they continue to support and appreciate what I’m bringing to them is sometimes overwhelming. So I’m certainly grateful and thankful to continuing the support and wanting to come out and hear me and have some fun with me.
You can find more information and purchase tickets to Dionne Warwick’s Easter and Mother’s Day online concerts by clicking here.
You can find Dionne Warwick on Twitter by clicking here.
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