Show biz anniversaries are kind of hard for Dionne Warwick to figure out.
After all, the five-time Grammy winner has been singing in front of audiences since she was 6 years old, at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. She recorded backing vocals for The Drifters, Ben E. King, Chuck Jackson, Solomon Burke and others in 1960, while she was studying music education at the Hartt College of Music in Connecticut.
And she released her first single, “Don’t Make Me Over,” in 1962, beginning a long association with composers Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
So this year marks either 50 or 48 years for Warwick’s professional career. But she’s just happy to still be singing after this long of a tenure.
“I’m very surprised, because I made a promise to myself in my 25th year that was going to be it,” says Warwick, 69, who was born Marie Dionne Warrick but changed her name after a typo on the label of her first single led to an unexpected rechristening.
“I feel very confident and very good right now. The people still want to hear me, want to see me and be part of my life musically. So I’m still here.”
She’s not slowing down — much — either. She released a gospel album, “Why We Sing,” in 2008 and is planning a similar project “in the very near future.” Warwick also just finished an album of songs from the Sammy Cahn songbook that will come out later this year.
“I have been singing all my life,” Warwick says. “I come from a singing family. Ever since I have been singing, I think I have improved tremendously — every single time I have opened my mouth. I keep growing, and that’s a wonderful thing.”
Dionne Warwick and David Elliott perform at 8 p.m. Friday (Jan. 15) at Sound Board in the MotorCity Casino-Hotel, 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $36 and $40. Call (313) 237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.
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