The iconic singer Dionne Warwick has worked for more than 50 years in the entertainment business, breaking down barriers in the process.
Her music is the soundtrack for generations with a multitude of hits including "I Say a Little Prayer," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" and "( Theme from ) Valley of the Dolls."
Her '80s collaboration "That's What Friends Are For" raised more than $3 million for AIDS research, with the help of friends Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder. During that decade, she also hosted the television show Solid Gold, in which she sang duets with many artists.
A Warwick-focused documentary called Don't Make Me Over was just announced to be in the works from David Garrett's Mister Smith Entertainment. It will feature many of the performers who she worked with over her lengthy career.
Warwick is slated to perform at the Center on Halsted's Human First gala on May 20.
Windy City Times: Hi, Dionne. So you are calling from California?
Dionne Warwick: Yes, I am.
WCT: Were you able to visit Brazil this year? I know you love it there.
DW: I just got back about a week ago.
WCT: Have you been back since the Black Ensemble Theater event when we last spoke?
DW: Yes, I have. I don't get back to Chicago as much as I used to in the early days.
WCT: What were your thoughts on the Don't Make Me Over ( In Tribute to Dionne Warwick ) show?
DW: I am over the moon about it. Jackie Taylor did her complete homework. She had all the facts right.
It was overwhelming that someone knew that much about me, and was willing to share it. I'm still thrilled about it. I hope it will get bigger legs, and maybe move on to bigger and better things.
WCT: Were there parts of the story you thought were missing?
DW: No. I thought she did a wonderful job bringing out points of interest, and of course the music.
WCT: How about a movie in the future?
DW: It is still in the works. We are putting it all together. Eventually, we will start filming and get it on.
WCT: What songs are you singing for us at the Human First Gala?
DW: Songs that people expect me to sing. It will be a full concert, so that is what you will get.
WCT: You have been a big supporter of the LGBT community. Many fans will be there.
DW: Well, good. I am hoping that they raise all they hope for with this event. I like to raise consciousness and have fun at the same time.
WCT: How does the song "That's What Friends Are For" work with out all of the other artists not being there?
DW: I sing all of the parts. I will absolutely be singing it that night.
WCT: Are there any songs from your catalogue that you won't sing anymore?
DW: The songs that I perform are the reason that I am performing. There's no way in the world I could negate any of the songs.
WCT: This is going back, but do you have a favorite memory of Elvis Presley?
DW: Yes, I do. He did something that was magnanimous. As you know, my Aunt Cissy [Houston, Whitney's mother] and the Sweet Inspirations were part of his backing group. I went to one of their rehearsals. That was the first time I met him.
He did something later that was absolutely incredible. All of the albums in Las Vegas he decided to put signed autographs inside of each of those albums. I had never signed that many albums in my life!
WCT: Viva Las Vegas!
WCT: Do you go back to Vegas often?
DW: No, I don't. Vegas has changed quite a lot.
WCT: You don't want to be like Cher and perform there?
DW: That is a residency, and I have no desire to do that.
WCT: If you weren't a singer, what would you do?
DW: I would be teaching music. My credentials are from the Hartt School of music in Hartford, Connecticut. So I could do that.
WCT: What projects are you working on, currently?
DW: I will be doing a new CD very shortly. Right now, that is where the concentration is. It will be all new music. I will record it in New York, where I usually do my recordings.
WCT: In what style will it be?
DW: Dionne Warwick style!
WCT: Is there currently a feud with you and Aretha Franklin? [Editor's note: The media recently reported that Franklin reignited a situation with Warwick after Warwick allegedly insulted her at Whitney's Houston's funeral in 2012.]
DW: I don't know what possessed her to do what she did, nor will I dignify it.
WCT: Any fun plans while visiting in Chicago?
DW: Unfortunately, I won't have time to do anything other than what I come in to do. I am flying in and flying out.
The Human First gala will take place at The Geraghty, 2520 S. Hoyne Ave., on Saturday, May 20, beginning at 5:30 p.m. See CenterOnHalsted.org .