Dionne Warwick interview: ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ documentary
“Be who you are,” says music legend Dionne Warwick. That’s the advice she gives to up-and-coming artists who hope to achieve the career longevity she has maintained since her first single “Don’t Make Me Over” was released in 1962. Warwick and her son, music producer Damon Elliott, joined Gold Derby for a webchat to discuss her new single with Dolly Parton, her CNN documentary “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” and the mother and son’s joint venture as executive producers of “Hits! The Musical.” Watch the video interview above.
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“I met Dolly yesterday when we filmed our video, for the first time” Warwick reveals. Parton famously penned “I Will Always Love You,” the biggest hit of Warwick’s cousin Whitney Houston‘s career, but Warwick herself had never crossed paths with the country singer. “Vicariously I met her through Whitney, of course, but actually standing in front of her and saying, ‘Hey! How are you doing?’ was yesterday. We had the best time filming. The song was sent to me by her and she requested that I sing it with her as a duet, which was my pleasure to do. It’s a brilliant song. I’m certain that everybody’s gonna love it.”
The track titlted “Peace Like a River” will be released February 24 and is produced by Elliott. “This is something that I envisioned,” he says. “I said to mom, ‘You and Dolly both are such, mega, mega legends.’ I believe I used the term ‘double barrel shotgun.’ Like, coming out of both barrels, just boom! And mom said, ‘Yeah, that’s what we are, we’re a double barrel shotgun.’ I had the opportunity to say that to Dolly yesterday and she goes, ‘Yeah, we’re double Ds!'”
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Warwick and Elliott are also working together as co-executive producers on “Hits! The Musical,” a 50-city national tour that features 29 performers, ages 10-22, singing and dancing to a medley of 80 of America’s most iconic songs. “Performances from some of the most gifted youngsters I have ever seen anywhere,” Warwick asserts. “And I have seen a lot. I really have, but nothing like this. It’s better than some Broadway shows I’ve seen, I have to say that. It took me through my entire career, musically, from the ’60s through the 2000s. It’s brilliantly done.”
“My mom’s the best, Whitney’s the best, my big brother’s the best at what we do, but these kids are right up there,” Elliott adds.
“Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” is the singer’s documentary that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2021 and aired on CNN January 1 of this year. It’s currently streaming on HBO Max. The film tells the story of Warwick’s meteoric rise from New Jersey gospel choirs to international cross-over superstardom. “Everybody has an opinion, which they’re entitled to,” she says. “Well now the know. They got the story directly from me. There’s no more ‘I thought.’ That’s basically the reason for the doc.”
In addition to those projects, Warwick reflects back on her legendary music career, her reigning title as “The Queen of Twitter” and performing as Mouse on “The Masked Singer.”