Dionne Warwick has joined the Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation in their mission to make mental health a priority in every community.
On Tuesday, Oct. 11, Warwick graced a sea of influential guests draped in black tie attire at L’Avenue at Saks, a Parisian-inspired restaurant inside the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York City.
The 81-year-old Grammy award winning artist belted three songs from her beloved repertoire, including “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” “That’s What Friends Are For” and “If I Want To.”
By the end of the night, the event raised $1.8 million to help strengthen the foundation’s mission to increase mental health awareness and education.
While speaking to TODAY at the event, Warwick said that mental health issues are something she cares about deeply, and everyone else should too.
“We should be concerned,” she said. “My grandfather, who was a minister, always said that God put us all here on Earth to be of service to one another. And that’s one of the services that we should strive for.”
Gospel singer to Twitter star
Warwick’s decadeslong journey with music first began in the church. It’s there where she learned gospel, before later joining the singing group with her sister and aunt, Cissy Houston, titled the Gospelaires. The group was so good they would sing backing vocals for recording artists in New York, and after doing that for quite some time, Warwick caught the attention of songwriter Burt Bacharach, who wanted her to record demos with him.
After Warwick’s demo got into the right hands of a producer, she got her first record deal and her career took off. “Walk On By” was her first collaboration with Bacharach, charting high on the Billboard 100 at the time before establishing itself as once of the greatest songs of all time, according to Rolling Stone.
Now, Warwick — who is also a cousin to Whitney Houston — has been in the music industry for around 60 years and is revered as a legend.
In October 2012, Warwick joined Twitter, but it’s been the last few years that have cemented her as the “queen” of the social media platform. There, she is known for sharing unique words of wisdom and for making her followers laugh in 280 characters or less at a time.
“It’s fun, to know that they’re listening to what I’m saying and following what I’m saying,” she said.
In March 2021, Warwick hilariously posted, “I am always tweeting while wearing a black, vintage, sequin gown… as divas do.”
On her signature candor, she said: “I’ve always said what I wanted to say. If the occasion presents itself and requires me to say something, I will say it.”
But other than her iconic tweets, Warwick has used her platform on social media to talk about real issues that impact her mind.
On the night of the Saks event, she tweeted, “Mental health matters. Be kind to yourself and others.”
By using social media, Warwick has made her presence known to a younger generation who are finding it hard to be kind to people online.
“It wasn’t my voice being heard,” she said of why she joined Twitter in the first place. “I felt I had a way of letting those who were doing craziness on social media, the bashing of people, saying crazy things…”
She added, “I think letting them know that there’s a grown-up in their presence finally turned them around and let them know that there’s a very big amount of respect that has to be given, because, I will not stand for anything other than that.”
“There are ways to say whatever it is that you want to say,” she continued. “Always. I’ve said it before and I told it several times about the fact that smiling is the cure.”
However, Warwick knows that sometimes her tweets can be quite intimidating, but either way, she assures her fans that they always come from a place of love.
“I think I have some fairly sound advice,” she said, before correcting herself.
“Actually, I wouldn’t use that word advice because it’s not advice. It’s words of encouragement, words that are sound, and grown-up.”
Despite subscribing more than 5,000 people on the platform, when asked who her favorite account to follow is, she said: “I don’t really follow anybody. They seem to all want to follow me.”
On Jan. 1, 2022 CNN will be releasing their award-winning documentary titled, “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over.” This doc will tell the story of Warwick’s extraordinary life. Everything will be covered, from her humble beginnings in New Jersey to her life as a five-time Grammy-winning singer, who sold over 100 million records.
Warwick says that the most surprising thing that fans will learn from the documentary is “the truth.”
“People have a way of having their own opinions of, who I am, what I do, what I don’t do, how I do it, when I do it and why,” she said. “Well, they’ll now know from the source the real deal.”