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Dionne Warwick tries writing but no plans to retire

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - After a singing career spanning nearly five decades, Dionne Warwick has turned to writing as a new way to inspire youngsters, but retiring from singing is the last thing on her mind.

An undated handout photo shows Dionne Warwick's new picture book "Say A Little Prayer". REUTERS/Perseus Books Group/Handout

Warwick, 67, the five-time Grammy Award winning singer, is releasing a picture book for children based on her own childhood called “Say A Little Prayer”, which she hopes will inspire youngsters to follow their dreams.

Her own career began with a family gospel group from East Orange in New Jersey which led her to signing backing vocals for such artists as The Drifters where she was spotted by Burt Bacharach. Her first single was released in November 1962.

The singer, actress, and U.N. Global Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization, spoke to Reuters about her career and the book which stars Little D, a girl who finds her talents singing to an audience with her grandfather’s encouragement:

Q: Why a book now?

A: “I had been approached by publishers for a long time about doing a book but there were no requests I wanted to do. Then I was approached by Running Press about this book and my partner David Freeman Wooley (who co-authored the book with Tonya Bolden) convinced me that this would be something I would feel comfortable doing -- writing for children.”

Q: What did you want the book to be?

A: “I wanted to write a book about dreams and where everything is possible. It really is about me and my childhood and the things that occurred to my in my life. It was a wonderful experience to go back and remember those days. I had an incredible childhood, one which I wish for every child in the world. It was full of love and family and friends.”

Q: Have childhoods changed a lot since then?

A: “Undoubtedly. In the world now, we are moving at such a fast pace, with computers and electronics that kids now know from an early age. That is something I am just learning -- the computer.”

Q: What is the message in the book?

A: “It is to inspire children to know that they can do whatever they dream or feel they are capable of doing if they have the wherewithal. My grandfather used to say that if you can think it, you can do it. My (six) grandchildren (aged between 3 and 18) love the book.”

Q: What were your dreams as a child?

A: “I think as a little girl I had dreams like every other little girl -- to be a ballerina or a princess -- and that is when my grandfather gave me my mantra. But singing has always been part of my life. I came from a singing family.”

Q: According to Billboard magazine, you are second only to Aretha Franklin as the female vocalist with the most Billboard Hot 100 chart hits between 1955 and 1999. To what do you attribute your success?

A: “I sing songs people want to hear. Also I had two of the most prolific songwriters (Burt Bacharach and Hal David) who have given me the types of songs that have been unrivaled.”

Q: Can we expect more books from you?

A: “I would like to continue to do books that inspire and that are a part of people’s lives for a period of time. I would like to do a sequel to this and let Little D grow up a little bit and give a bit of inspiration to our teenagers.”

Q: How about a full autobiography?

A: “No way. I think people know about enough about me and what they don’t know they should not. It is none of their business. I think there are some things that should not be public and it’s kind of strange to want to know that much about anybody.”

Q: Will you ever retire?

A: “No, I don’t think so. I plan to take long sabbaticals and enjoy my life for me for some time and do special things and special concerts and record when the spirits moves me. But I don’t think anyone can ever retire from this industry. This is my 47th year so I am thinking of slowing down, yes, I will do that.”

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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