Dionne Warwick says she's been treating the past 13 or so months of quarantine "like a vacation I've never had."
Her definition of vacation is a bit busier than most, however.
The veteran songstress — who turned 80 in December and received her first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination in February — has in fact used this time off the road and at home in New Jersey as a genuine opportunity to grow and find new creative adventures. More than the singer of "Walk On By," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," "I Say a Little Prayer" and 53 other Billboard Hot 100 singles never imagined.
That's particularly true of the Internet, where Warwick has become a "Zoomer zoomer" and an active player on TikTok and Twitter, where she's befriended younger artists such as Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and The Weeknd. The conversations have led to musical collaborations with the last two, as well.
Elsewhere, Warwick appeared as Mommy Mouse on Season 3 of "The Masked Singer," and she was a special guest on a Verzuz virtual "battle" between good friends Gladys Knight and Patti Labelle. This weekend Warwick enters the virtual performance realm with a pair of Easter Sunday concerts from home, which will be followed by another doubleheader on Mother's Day in May.
"Although I miss what I do very, very much, and I miss my audience, this has given me a chance to slow down a minute and do all these other things," Warwick explains. "It's been a bunch of fun getting to know new things to do. It's keeping me very busy, I must say that. I'm meeting new people, and we're having a good time together. I'm learning a lot from my new babies on Twitter, and I hope they're learning a lot from me."
The exchange, Warwick adds, has been enlightening. "Our babies do have brains," she says with a smile. "They think, and there are things they truly want to know, and I think they're getting a kick out of the fact a grownup such as me has taken the time to enter into their world and give them something to think about — as they've given me something to think about."
Her collaboration with Chance the Rapper, titled "Nothing's Impossible," is "dealing with what we're going through in the world right now and giving it a positive edge." Warwick hopes it will be out by summer, and The Weekend has already committed to working on a song together as well. Warwick expects more will come with her other "babies," too.
"I think they feel there's a need to get to know me better, and what better way than through music, since we're all involved in that arena?" she says. "I'm looking forward to those possibilities coming to fruition. Everything will kind of fall into place when it's supposed to.
"Just the fact they know who I am and are interested in what I'm saying is a real joy, you know?"
For her virtual concerts, Warwick will offer a simple presentation with music director Rob Shrock on piano. She promises plenty of hits from her nearly 60 years of recording, as well as "songs people have forgotten I sang in the first place."
"It'll be just a good ol' time," Warwick says. "I'm inviting them into my living room, and I hope they'll invite me into theirs. It's just me and my music, something I hope people will enjoy. I haven't sung in over a year, so it's very interesting to see if I have anything here, still. (The voice) is a muscle and needs exercising. Because I don't do vocalizing or anything of that nature, there may be a few squeaks here and there. But so what?"
Warwick has some biographical projects on the docket as well. A multipart TV series looking for a network home will star Teyana Taylor, while a biopic is also in development with former Destiny's Child member LeToya Luckett slated to portray a young Warwick. "I think I've got a lot more left to do," Warwick says, "but I'm not thinking about anything other than what I want to do, when I want to do it."
And she wouldn't mind being in Cleveland at the end of October for a Rock Hall induction.
"It took 'em long enough," Warwick says with a laugh, noting that she's been eligible for nomination since 1987. "I've never categorized music. Music to me is just music. Everybody tries to put you into a certain box, but it's the same eight notes we all sing and play. I'm happy they've made me ... I used the word 'worthy,' of being considered to be inducted.
"It's all predicated on votes, of course. If it happens it's wonderful. If it doesn't, it's OK, too. It won't stop me from anything."
Dionne Warwick performs a pair of virtual concerts at 2 and 8 p.m. Sunday, April 4, from her home in Newark, N.J. Tickets via watch.mandolin.com.
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