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A sit down with Dionne Warwick
"I know I have so much more to give."
Earlier this month, Bowie State University unveiled the Dionne Warwick Theater at its Fine and Performing Arts Center — the first performance venue named in her honor.
I sat down with the six-time Grammy winner before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and we talked briefly about how she became involved with the historically Black university, her fame on Twitter and more.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out my story about the theater naming at HuffPost.
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So why Bowie State?
Absolutely. It’s a traditional Black college, and with us losing so many of them, this is a fine promotion to give. [Historically Black colleges and universities] are still very vital, not only to our existence but to the world.
Did Bowie State reach out to you for this?
I went there for a purpose. I visited their [health program] because I'm still very much involved in AIDS [awareness] and I was absolutely blown away by the work they do there. It was just amazing.
Then they took me on a tour of the school. Of course, we ended up in the music department, and one thing led to another in our conversation. They were asking questions, things that they felt that they needed to completely enhance their programs. And I'm gonna say this came out of the blue, ‘you're gonna do what? You're gonna name what?’ I'm truly excited and thrilled.
This is the first performing arts venue named in your honor. How does that feel?
Oh, it is a huge honor. The only other thing that has my name is the grammar school that I attended as a child. It’s now the Dionne Warwick Institute in East Orange, New Jersey.
Can you talk a little about the importance of HBCUs?
We have brilliance that is not being recognized within the Black community. And I think it's time that [people realize it]. If it has to be celebrity-driven, then best it be. If my voice carries any kind of weight, I hope to give people the inspiration to take a look and see how brilliant Black folk really are.
How do you feel about Twitter helping to introduce you to a new generation of young people?
It's wonderful. I'm thrilled that the babies, as I call them, have recognized me when I entered Twitter. [I joined Twitter] because of what I was seeing my nieces and nephews looking at, and I wasn't thrilled with that. And I had to let these babies know that a grown-up now is in your presence. And I will not stand for what you're trying to say or do in the way you're saying it and doing it. So let's get a grip here.
I’ve made a lot of new friends, people that I’ve heard of before but didn’t know. Now all of a sudden, I know them; they’ve become my friends. Young sisters feel that they know me now; you know, they call me Auntie. It feels good to know that they’re paying attention.
When you look ahead at your life and your career, do you still feel like you have more to give?
I sure do. I know I have so much more to give. Whatever I’m doing or have done is a path that the big guy in the sky, our heavenly father, prepared for me before I was even thought of. So wherever he takes me, that’s what I’m doing. I think that should be a realization to everyone that your path is preordained.
There are so many biopics today. When you see so many, including the Whitney Houston films, how do you feel about those movies?
As long as they tell the truth and the real truth. The only way they’re going to do that is if you go to the person that is [being portrayed]. As is my documentary: “Don't Make Me Over.” It came from me. You’re hearing me. You’re getting my absolute truth.
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