Iconic singer appears in PBS ‘Great Performances’ event
Dionne Warwick surely has a place in any musical celebration that invokes the word “legend.”
The six-time Grammy Award winner shares the stage with others who have received the recording industry’s top honor as PBS’ “Great Performances” presents its annual “Grammy Salute to Music Legends” Friday, Oct. 18 (check local listings). Sheila E. hosts the event – recorded last May at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre — that opens with fellow singing icon Johnny Mathis rendering the Warwick standard “Walk On By,” then Warwick herself offering “What the World Needs Now Is Love” before her sons present her Legend award to her.
“It was unbelievable,” the pleasant Warwick recalls of the occasion. “First of all, it’s very exciting to know that you’re receiving the award. It’s been a long time, and I’m thrilled that they recognized my body of work.” That work encompasses other music-chart classics that teamed her with songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David, including “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “Alfie,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Don’t Make Me Over” and “Anyone Who Had a Heart.”
Having Mathis at the ceremony also was special for Warwick. “Johnny and I have been friends for many, many years,” she notes, adding that his appearance “was supposed to be a surprise, but somebody leaked it to me. That actually made it even more exciting, just to know he was willing to do this for me.”
Among others honored on the “Grammy Salute to Music Legends” (some posthumously) are Black Sabbath, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Billy Eckstine, Donny Hathaway, Julio Iglesias and Sam & Dave. They represent quite a musical range, which Warwick likes: “That’s the magic of music, that there are so many different genres. And I appreciate it.”
Currently performing in a Las Vegas residency running until late November, Warwick reflects, “Oftentimes, I’ll sit and think of all the songs I’ve done over these years, and it’s amazing. They’re wonderful … and thank goodness they’re songs that have the opportunity to grow with people over the years, as they did with me. That has made them sustain.”