I’ve seen a lot of positive reaction, on social media, to “Don’t Make Me Over,” the Dionne Warwick documentary that screened this week on CNN. I saw it in 2021 at the Montclair Film Festival and enjoyed it very much, too.
The East Orange native, who turned 82 in December, has taken part in a lot of notable duets and other vocal collaborations throughout her career, so I thought it might be a good time to take a closer look, using YouTube videos.
Here are the 20 best videos that I could find, in no particular order.
“That’s What Friends Are For” (with Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder and Elton John). Released under the name “Dionne Warwick & Friends,” this 1985 AIDS charity single raised more than $3 million and won Grammys for Song of the Year (the award went to co-writers Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager) and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
“That’s What Friends Are For” (with Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross). Warwick and Wonder also teamed with Warwick’s cousin Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross for a spectacular version of the song at the 1987 Soul Train Awards.
“Then Came You” (with The Spinners). This No. 1 hit from 1974 featured lead vocals by Warwick and The Spinners’ Bobby Smith and Philippé Wynne.
“You’re a Friend of Mine” (with Whitney Houston). The song was a hit for Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne the same year of this performance (1985).
“Alfie” (with Burt Bacharach). Bacharach, of course, co-wrote many of Warwick’s hits. But he also performed with her many times, usually sticking to piano, but sometimes doing a little singing as well. Here they are singing “Alfie” (co-written by Bacharach and his frequent collaborator Hal David and a hit for Warwick in 1967).
“I Say a Little Prayer”/”By the Time I Get to the Phoenix” (with Glen Campbell). The word hadn’t been invented yet, but this 1986 duet was basically a “mashup” of the two big 1967 hits.
“Children, Go Where I Send Thee” (with Dee Dee Warwick). Dionne’s sister Dee Dee had some hits of her own in the ’60s and ’70s. Here, the two sing together brilliantly on the TV show “Hullabaloo” in 1965.
“Who Do You Think It Was?” (with The Drinkard Singers). Stunning audio and video from 1967 of Warwick with the gospel group The Drinkard Singers, who featured her mother Lee Drinkard as well as Cissy Houston (Lee’s sister).
“I Say a Little Prayer” (with Aretha Franklin). From TV’s “Solid Gold” 1981. Though Warwick recorded the definitive version of the song in 1967, Franklin also had a Top 10 hit with it, in 1968.
“Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up” (with Barry White). Warwick and the rumbling-voiced White show more vocal chemistry than you might expect on this 1981 duet version of White’s 1973 hit.
“He’s Gone” (with Toni Tenille). Another pairing that you think might not work, but really does, with the two, in 1977, absolutely nailing a gender-reversed version of the Hall & Oates song (originally released in 1973, but a bigger hit for H&O when they re-released it in 1976). Bonus: A vibes solo by Daryl “The Captain” Dragon.
“Hummingbird” (with B.B. King). From King’s 1997 album Deuces Wild.
“Killing Me Softly With His Song” (with Roberta Flack). Adaptation is a big part of being a great duet singer. Check out how effortlessly Warwick sings in a Roberta Flack-like style on this 1981 version of Flack’s 1973 hit.
“You’ve Got a Friend” (with Natalie Cole).
“My Love” (with Stevie Wonder). Written by Wonder, this song was recorded by Julio Iglesias and Wonder in 1988, becoming just a minor hit in the United States but hitting the Top 10 in several other countries.
“Stevie Wonder Medley (‘My Cherie Amour,’ ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life,’ ‘All in Love Is Fair,’ ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’)” (with Luther Vandross). While this never quite gels as a duet, there is some pretty great individual singing here, particularly Warwick on “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and Vandross on “My Cherie Amour.”
“Superwoman” (with Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle). Warwick and LaBelle were featured on this track from Knight’s 1991 album Good Woman.
“I’ll Never Love This Way Again” (with Barry Manilow). Manilow produced Warwick’s 1979 hit version of this ballad, and here they are performing it together at the Arista Records 25-year anniversary celebration concert at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
“Love Power” (with Jeffrey Osborne). The official video for this song, which was a hit in 1987.
“Power in the Name” (with Krayzie Bone and Nomad). Warwick sounds great on her guest verse, 34 seconds in.
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