Dionne Warwick talks candidly to Saga

Paula Kerr / 21 August 2015

US songstress Dionne Warwick, 74, is best loved for soaring ballads Anyone who Had a Heart and Walk on By and has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. Cousin of the late Whitney Houston, she is divorced and has two sons, David and Damon… but how old is she in her head?



What makes your heart sing…?
Music, of course, makes my heart sing. I’ve spent much of my life living in Brazil and its joyous people hold a particular place in my heart, and Brazilian beats truly stir my soul. I call it God’s backyard and it’s a place I will always call my second home.

…and sink?

I’m always saddened when I’m deceived and a long-held, cherished trust is broken, which has happened in the past.

What did turning 70 mean for you?

It was a milestone worth celebrating for sure, and made me realise I have truly survived. And I was reminded about the amount of work I would yet like to accomplish. Turning 70 gave me the inspiration to move forward and do so.

Silliest thing you did recently?

I left my phone backstage at a concert and didn’t know I’d done so until I was on my way to the airport. It became a ridiculous comedy of errors trying to locate it, with calls to anyone I could think of who worked on the show to search for it, then finding out my son had picked it up and placed it in one of my bags!

Last good deed for the planet?
To bring the awareness of AIDS to the forefront. I orchestrated That’s what Friends are For to raise funds for The American Foundation for AIDS Research. That started a humanitarian awareness campaign that continues to this day. I also established the Dionne Warwick School of Economics and Entrepreneurship to assist students in achieving their educational and vocational goals, and I champion The Hunger Project in the UK, which works tirelessly to eradicate hunger worldwide.

Decade you’re most nostalgic for?
I’ve never been too much of a nostalgic person, to be honest, as I’ve always tried to stay with the times. But I miss the days when the process of communicating was much simpler. You could reach someone by phone and actually speak to a person. It was a time before texting, tweeting and so forth. 

What do you collect?
I’m not really a collector of material objects, but I’ve collected many wonderful friends through the years.

Your longest friendship?

That would be with myself.

What music gets you on a dance floor?

Oh, that’s easy. It’s the incredible salsa stylings of the incomparable Miss Celia Cruz. They would get anyone moving!

Your favourite contemporary song?

I’d have to say my granddaughter Cheyenne Elliott’s single, With You, but I guess I’m partial.

What single thing would make getting older easier?
Having the strength to be physically able to do the same number of things you did when you were in your twenties.

Your best beauty tip?

I never give tips or advice as everyone has a unique look and style, but I tell everyone to just be themself and keep it real. Then you will glow.


If your 16-year-old self could see you now, what would she say?
You did it!

When and where were you happiest?
I’m happiest now. Looking at what I’ve learned and accomplished, including seeing my two sons – my pride and joy – doing what they love and being wonderful fathers to my grandkids.

What makes you grumpy?
Situations that are more complicated than they should be due to lack of communication.

Your childhood nickname?

Dionne, funnily enough. I was actually named Marie, after my aunt. However, my godmother chose Dionne as my middle name, which everyone started to call me and it became my official name.

Last time you broke the law?
Not for quite some time, I’m pleased to report.


Your greatest regret?

I really have no regrets, only lessons learned and that is always a positive.

Who would you like to say sorry to?
I can’t think of anyone. I try to say sorry at the time.

How do you relax?
Relaxing has always been a rarity in my life, but having quality time to spend with my children and grandchildren is a wonderful luxury and incredibly relaxing.

Bad habit you can’t break?
Waking up at 4am. It’s become ingrained in my body clock, as historically I’ve always had an early plane to catch.

What lasting lesson did your parents teach you?
Remove ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary. If you can think it, you can do it!

When and with whom was your first kiss?
I would never kiss and tell.

Name two people from the past you'd like to sit next to at dinner.
I would love to have the chance to again sit with Nelson Mandela, who I had the privilege of knowing. And, also a wonderful mentor of mine, Marlene Dietrich.

Two main lessons life has taught you?
Establish a strong spiritual foundation, which will help sustain you through life’s peaks and valleys and create a support mechanism. Family is extremely important to me.

Conventional or alternative medicine?
I follow the advice of doctors I’ve grown to trust and know their advice is best for me.

Exercise, good diet or both?
I’ve walked many miles through airports and I generally eat what I like and have managed to survive.

Last time you laughed till you cried?
When I watched the Tyler Perry movie The Single Moms Club. He’s a comic genius.

Glass half-full or half-empty?
Half-full – it’s the only way to see things and realise the blessings life has provided.

Your hope for the future?
It would be wonderful to see people of all nations, races and beliefs working together to get along, and stop the madness of senseless killing and terrorist attacks. Plus, for the seemingly lost notions of kindness and tolerance to become the norm.



VERDICT
For keeping up with the times, staying positive and still not knowing the meaning of can’t, we make you 54.

Dionne Warwick appears in Legends Live, across the UK, October 3, 4, 6 (legendslive.org)



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