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Dionne Warwick on Diana Ross and Evolving With the Classics

Dionne Warwick
Dionne Warwick
Photo by David Vance

Movie and television audiences tend to appreciate subtle, understated work from actors. But music is a different story. Singers who simply let the song carry their voice without theatrical flair don't always get the love and admiration they deserve. If they did, Dionne Warwick would have a fancy nickname like "Queen of Soul" or "Miss Warwick."

Not that Warwick is jealous of singers who came up with her in the '60s like Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross.  "There has never been a competition of me and my peers, as we all rooted for each other," she says. "If there were any artists who felt that way, I wasn't aware of it."

Dionne Warwick came to fame more than 50 years ago in a partnership with composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David. Warwick provided a soothing voice that carried heartbreak and hope in three-minute doses of pop perfection on classics such as "Walk On By," "I Say a Little Prayer," and "What the World Needs Now Is Love." Five decades later, she says she continues to serve the lyrics rather than let the songs serve as a platform to show off her vocal talent — even if she now interprets the songs differently from when she first recorded them.

"All of my songs have a different meaning as I've matured. Simply stated, we are all in different stages of our lives from 50 years ago," she explains, "but the lyrics by such amazing writers, such as Hal David, remain constant."

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Now 76 years old, Warwick is the subject of a documentary about her life, and she's working on a narrative film she says is in preproduction. It will show her great artistic successes and the lessons she learned from and passed on to her musical family of great talents, including her younger cousin Whitney Houston.

In the meantime, she continues to sing her songs to live audiences on tour, including at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek this Saturday. She says audiences can anticipate "familiar songs that are expected of me to sing, which I hope have become ones that the audience has grown to love as much as I do."

Whomever is chosen to play Warwick in that aforementioned movie of her life better be as subtle and understated as the legend herself.

Dionne Warwick
8 p.m. Saturday, April 8, at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, 5550 NW 40th St., Coconut Creek; seminolecoconutcreekcasino.com; 954-977-6700. Tickets cost $65 to $100 via ticketmaster.com.

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