Reminiscing on a gig with Dionne Warwick… I forget the date, but it was a few years back at Dover Downs in Delaware. I was on a hit (gig) with Dionne Warwick, the legendary singer who has had some of the biggest hits ever while experiencing the most adverse of circumstances. In fact, while I was performing with her, she was actually going through “one of those really tough times” then. For the record, I have performed with quite a few big name celebrities, but I have to take my hate off to Dionne Warwick. Her music, produced by Hal Davis and Burt Bacharach, was purely “genius” in arrangements, content and creativity. For any musician, it would be a challenge to learn her material because the parts were extremely intricate. Of course, her voice is not the same as it was years ago in her prime. Time (and the fact that she smoked) had taken a toll on her vocal chords, even though she still sounds great now. As I said, learning her music was tough enough, but then we had to actually “change the keys” of most of her tunes to fit her range. She had charts, but that didn’t help me much because I don’t read music. I did, however, learn the songs, and I learned them “quickly.” On this particular gig, Ms. Warwick was the true professional. She had “just” lost her sister, Dee Dee Warwick (who had fame of her own with her hit single “You’re no good”), but somehow, someway, Dionne still managed to do this show. I don’t think anyone would have blamed her if she had decided to cancel, but it actually felt as though she was doing the gig “for” her sister. Then in 2013 it was reported that this great singer filed for bankruptcy. It was alleged that she owed $10 million while her assets only totaled about $25 thousand. People wondered how a singer with “so many” hits, like “Anyone who had a heart would love me too, Say a little prayer, De Javu, Then came you, We are the World, and Do you know the way to San Jose (just to name only a small few)” could end up in these circumstances. To me, this is yet “another” example of how the music industry will often “eat you up alive.” Obviously, the people who got rich off of her voice were probably “everyone else BUT her.” Record labels fleeced a lot of artists out of their rightful royalties, and just because an artist may be famous doesn’t necessarily make him or her “rich.” When it came to big time entertainers, she was nice, cordial, friendly and genuine. Not all of them are like that. Today I just wanted to spotlight her with my own personal story. The truth of the matter is that this was my second gig with her, but for the first one we only did about 20 seconds of “Do you know the way to San Jose” and we did the song with “absolutely no rehearsal at all with her.” In fact, we never even met her until they called her name to come out onstage and we did the song right there on the spot. True professionals can do that, and to me it was a privilege, pleasure and honor to have worked onstage with Dionne Warwick. If you get the chance I invite you to Google her music and career, and as always, I would like to with you the very best that life has to offer you today.
Dionne Warwick and Brett Jolly (in background)