All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

Dionne Warwick show in Shawnee kicks off musical new year

Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report

SHAWNEE, Okla. -- We really don’t talk about Dionne Warwick enough. 

While her contemporaries like Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross still regularly make headlines and perform at A-list events, Warwick has never received the same amount of adulation. Which doesn’t really make much sense considering her “living legend” status, endless catalog of hits, and perfectly-aged vocals. 

Her performance Saturday night at the Grand Casino in Shawnee, entitled “An Evening with Dionne Warwick,” was a lovely presentation of what makes the 76-year old performer such an icon. With over fifty years in the industry, Warwick’s performance itself was a tribute to her classic music that entire generations grew up on.

I’ll be the first to admit that I may not seem like the ideal attendee at a Dionne Warwick casino concert. I definitely had to defend myself more than a few times when 60-year old men and women would lean over and ask me “Are you sure you’re in the right place?” or “Are you really a Dionne fan?”

I may’ve been born over thirty years after Warwick’s heyday, but the romantic timelessness of her music stuck out to me the second I heard it. Which is why I was just as excited as the rest of the crowd when the lights went out and the soul superstar stepped out to deafening applause. 

“It’s so great to be here with you all in… Shawnee,” Warwick deadpanned, entertaining the crowd with the story of how her flight got delayed and she had to hop over several obstacles to make the show on time. 

But with a feisty attitude to match her red gown, Warwick started by saying “If the spirit should move you, and you wanna get up and move, then do it!” 

There were certainly plenty of opportunities during Warwick’s short but sweet set. It was a show oozing with all manner of nostalgia and old-school glamour, opening with one of her signatures tunes: “Walk On By.” 

Warwick was the protege of veteran songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who became responsible for her biggest hits and some of the most enduring music of the ‘60s and ‘70s. In fact, Warwick is second only to Aretha Franklin as the most-charted female singer in music history, with 69 of her singles making the Billboard Hot 100 over her career. 

Seeing these songs performed back-to-back, you realize just how big of a deal Warwick is and the impact she’s had on popular music. “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” is a wistful gem, while “Message to Michael” is as melodramatic as it is magical. 

And it was next to impossible for me to contain myself when Warwick sang what is probably her most iconic song: “I Say A Little Prayer.” I first fell in love with Dionne because her music soundtracked the Julia Roberts rom-com “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” a staple of cable television and one of my personal favorites growing up. One of its most famous scenes features Rupert Everett’s character inciting a sing-along in a restaurant to the Warwick classic. 

While the arrangement was different, with Dionne saying she figured she should “bring it into the  twenty-first century,” it was still surreal to see the woman herself still kicking it and belting out “I Say A Little Prayer” to thunderous squeals and applause from the crowd. 

Warwick obviously doesn’t sound the same as she did in 1964, but her voice now has a richer tone packed with emotion that still has the power to illicit goosebumps. The Grand Event Center provided a perfectly intimate setting where Warwick could waltz around the stage and interact with a crowd that didn’t stop smiling the entire time. There wasn’t any fancy light work or elaborate costume changes, but simply a legendary performer and her three-piece band putting on one helluva show. 

And what better way is there to start off the new year? 

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Keaton Bell

Born in Minnesota but raised in Oklahoma, Keaton is a senior at the University of Oklahoma...

read more

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd
Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK