Dionne Warwick was in New York last night to perform a few songs from her Christmas album, Dionne Warwick & The Voices of Christmas (her 38th album!!!) at Live at L’Avenue at Saks Fifth Avenue. The five-time Grammy winner was joined by her granddaughter Cheyenne Eilliott to sing Jingle Bells, What The World Needs Now Is Love, and That’s What Friends Are For. Before she took to the stage at the restaurant’s gorgeous lower cocktail lounge, Le Chalet, we sat down with her to dish about the new album and what she thinks of the way audiences are dressing these days. Long live Dionne!
Why did you want to make a Christmas album?
I love Christmas! I love Christmas music. We’re in a period of time where those sings should be heard. And the fun I had! I had hours of joy recording this CD. Absolute joy.
What time of year did you make it?
August. The hottest month of the year. That’s when you do it. We started at the end of July and by October it was in people’s hands.
What was it like recording Christmas music when it was hot out?
I’d record Christmas music any time! It’s easy.
What songs were important for you to put on this album?
Every single one. Choosing the songs is easy. There’s a twist to these songs in the arrangements. The fun is pairing my duet partner with the songs that we sang together. That went like a piece of silk. The first one I did was Silver Bells with Chloe X Halle. They’re voices are like angels. I couldn’t think of a better song than Silver Bells. I couldn’t think of anybody better to sing White Christmas than Johnny Mathis. I sang This Christmas with Aloe Blacc and God Rest Te Merry Gentlemen with Dianne Reeves. I sang with Andra Day, Michael McDonald, The Oak Ridge Boys… There’s something for everybody.
What do you love about this time of year in the city besides those gorgeous Saks windows?
Do you know what I miss? I miss coming into New York as a child with my sister and brother and going to FAO Schwarz. I miss that. I miss those traditions.
What are you going to do for Christmas this year?
Same thing I do every year! I’m going to be with my family for a Christmas dinner. There’s meat, bread, deserts, vegetables…
You’re doing a Vegas residency at Caesar’s. Tell me about that!
We just finished a three month run. I had this month off. I’m back in January through March. Then I’m going to Europe on tour and come back to Vegas. It’s been wonderful. The audiences have been sensational. It’s not the Vegas I knew… It’s a completely different Vegas.
Do you like this Vegas?
No, I don’t. It’s just not Vegas. It’s now become an adult Disneyland. It’s so crowded. It’s not the class and style that I knew.
What did it used to be like?
It was wonderful. I didn’t mind standing on the stage in a $5000 gown because sitting in the audience was a woman wearing a $5000 dress. Now I look out there and they have Bermuda shorts on and a camera hanging around their neck. Please. It’s different. Too many hotels. Too many people.
But you still love performing?
Absolutely. I do love it. It’s a joy putting smiles on people’s faces.
Do you ever get nervous performing?
I’ve never gotten nervous. Never. I’ve been singing too long. I’ve been singing since the age of 6 in front of people. It’s too late now to be nervous.