Dionne Warwick | Photo: Neil Grabowsky/Wikimedia Commons

When Dionne Warwick last graced a stage in the 805, it was virtually — on-screen at the Arlington Theatre, where the Dave Wooley–directed documentary Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over had its premiere in the closing-night slot of the 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The pop royal and activist didn’t show up that night, but her remarkable story and presence via the affectionate doc made her a palpable heroine in the house.

For the real thing in real time, head over to Ojai’s Libbey Bowl next Friday, September 1, when Warwick makes a rare local-ish appearance as part of a rich roster of shows in the outdoor splendor of the Libbey Bowl.

Warwick’s collection of accolades and awards includes multiple Grammy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award) and Kennedy Center Honors just this year. But the proof of her indelible stamp on American musical culture is in the hearing. Crank her up on Spotify, actual vinyl, CDs, or your portal of choice, and the flow of hits over decades — by the dozens — and we sink into a Warwick reverie.

Although the New Jersey native, born in 1940, grew up in a gospel music family, Warwick’s stylistic path was less about the natural transition from gospel to R&B than a pathway through pop and soul-tinged pop. Of her later work, her 1985 song “That’s What Friends Are For” turned into an all-star anthem and a rallying call for AIDS activism.

But it was her ’60s legacy as the signature voice and muse for Burt Bacharach and Hal David that runs deeper in the annals of pop culture. Before their relationship succumbed to legal and professional conflict, the triumvirate managed to repeatedly court pop-charting stardust, with touches of musical sophistication tucked into the hooks, a hit list including “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “What the World Needs Now,” “The Look of Love,” and a personal favorite, “Anyone Who Had a Heart.”

A chance to be granted a close-up musical audience with Warwick is well worth a trip to Ojai.

See libbeybowl.org.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.