You know my favorite motto “Gotta love YouTube!” The reason for this posting today is numerous: Even though this is actually Barry’s special (and a great one at that, which I encourage to watch in its entirety) I wanted to focus in on his song set with Dionne Warwick. As Barry says in his intro Dionne=Class.

Just listen as the set unfolds and I especially love when Dionne and Barry are working out with just piano and vocals. That’s how a vocalist should work all of it out. Every vocalist should be able to play a little piano at least enough to get you from note to note. If you don’t/can’t then please for the rest of us work out with someone who can and that isn’t everyone… lots of people know how to play piano, but not everyone knows how to accompany. Barry Manilow had mastered this skill from all those years of working with singers before he became a recording artist.

Until I watched this I had somewhat forgotten how much a part of my formative listening years Dionne Warwick was a part of. My grandmother loved her some Dionne and as a result when either I would visit her or she would visit us there would be plenty of Dionne tunes both present and passed played. I’m also of the age where I would listen to Dionne weekly as the host of “Solid Gold” there were numerous host through the show’s run, but Dionne was first and (she eventually returned for another stint) she set the bar quite high with her ability to interpret whatever song she was called upon to sing that week. As you watch the video listen to the richness of Dionne’s tone, watch how she breathes and the amount of control she has and listen how she goes from key to key without effort. There should be no guessing as to why she was the voice that brought so many of those classic Bacharach/David songs to life.

Somehow I feel that a lot of younger singers don’t go back far enough with the influences or if they do they may miss someone because their genius may be understated. My recommendation would be to spend a great deal of time with Dionne’s catalog and I would be remiss if I didn’t point the fantastic job that Barry Manilow did in producing the 1979 album that these songs were culled from. Masterful work all the way round.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.