Dionne Warwick reunites with one of her “That’s What Friends Are For” partners, Gladys Knight, on her new duets album, Feels So Good. But most of the contributors are newer friends, suggested by the album’s producer, Damon Elliott (Warwick’s son), who has worked with many of them.
That includes Billy Ray Cyrus, who appears on the album’s standout track, “Hope Is Just Ahead,” which earnestly urges faith and prayer in the face of school shootings and other modern problems.
“It’s the kind of song that I’m basically known for,” says East Orange native Warwick. “It’s a song of hope, and joy, and possibilities.”
While Cyrus wrote new “Hope Is Just Ahead” himself, most of the artists chose older songs to record with Warwick. Ne-Yo, for instance, does “A House Is Not a Home,” while Cyndi Lauper sings on “Message to Michael.” Mya opts for “Close to You,” Ziggy Marley for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.”
Warwick says she has known Marley “since he was born,” explaining that she got to know his father, the late Bob Marley, while performing in Jamaica, and that she and Bob Marley wanted to make music together, but “it never came to fruition.”
She knows Mya well, also, since Elliott has worked with her often in the past. Her other son, David Elliott, and her granddaughter Cheyenne Elliott also appear as duet partners. But she was meeting some of the artists for the first time.
“People like Phil Driscoll (who sings on ‘This Guy/This Girl’s in Love With You’),” for instance, she says. “I met him for the first time, and was quite impressed with him. And Ne-Yo: Of course I was aware of who he is and what he did, but it was my first time meeting him as well.”
Warwick does not currently have any concert dates scheduled, but says “one of the things I want to put together is a tour, and invite those (duet partners) that are capable and able to join me, on a couple of songs. It’s all according to scheduling, which is the most difficult thing for us in this industry.”
For more on the album, which was released on Oct. 27, visit officialdionnewarwick.com.
Here is the track listing:
1. “Close to You,” with Mya
2. “A House Is Not a Home,” with Ne-Yo
3. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” with Ziggy Marley
4. “Message to Michael,” with Cyndi Lauper
5. “Every Once in a while,” with Eric Paslay
6. “Déjà Vu,” with Jamie Foxx
7. “Feels So Good,” with Ceelo Green
8. “I’ll Never Love This Way Again,” with Gladys Knight
9. “This Guy/This Girl’s in Love With You,” with Phil Driscoll
10. “You’ll Never Get to Heaven If You Break My Heart,” with Ruben Studdard
11. “Let There Be Love,” with Cheyenne Elliott
12. “Hope Is Just Ahead,” with Billy Ray Cyrus
13. “Windows of the World,” with David Elliott