Powers Auditorium Dionne Warwick brings a career’s worth of hits
By John Benson
Dionne Warwick may have thousands of shows behind her, but she still remembers her first visit to Youngstown.
“I think the first time I worked there was a little nightclub just outside of Youngstown,” said Warwick, calling from her New Jersey home. “This was more than 50 years ago.”
Making up for lost time is what Warwick has planned for her return this Friday at Powers Auditorium. The five-time Grammy Award-winning singer will be performing hits from her vast catalog.
The Garden State native, who was a cousin of Whitney Houston, was discovered in the early ’60s by the hit-making songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Over the next decade, they enjoyed more than 30 hit singles and 15 best-selling albums.
Warwick also 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,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”
When the platinum artist thinks back to the Bacharach-David tunes, one thing comes to mind.
“We were able to carve a niche of music in our own way,” Warwick said. “My thoughts are that Hal David was a magical lyricist. People related to exactly what was being said and how it was being said. He was able to utilize those particular words in many different incidences with regards to melodies.
“Also, nobody can write melodies better than Burt Bacharach. And I was fortunate enough to be the one who brought it to the listening ear.”
Despite the trio’s success, Warwick admitted they didn’t always see eye to eye. One song she didn’t want to record at first was the Grammy Award-winning “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”
“I just didn’t think those were the kinds of words that Hal David would write,” Warwick said. “Because of my complete affinity for Hal David, I just felt it was something I had to do. So I recorded it and cried all the way to the bank.”
During the ’80s, Warwick’s career enjoyed a boost when she reunited with Bacharach and friends Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder to record “That’s What Friends Are For.”
The project was important for Warwick, considering the money raised from the worldwide No. 1 song was donated to American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMFAR).
“That song was saying everything that everybody wanted to say at the time,” Warwick said. “I felt it was necessary at the time, and it was something I wanted to do with my friends. It turned out Gladys, Elton and Stevie felt the same way.”
While many of Warwick’s friends are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she has yet to receive that honor. Despite the fact she hasn’t received the call, the singer is taking the high road.
“You know what, it’s their choice,” Warwick said. “And when they finally decide after 56 years in this business that I deserve the honor, then I guess I’ll get it. But until that time, it’s OK. I have no problem with it.”