As it goes, many late-night TV viewers remember well the days of Dionne Warwick as host of the Psychic Friends Network. Unfortunately, no one knows if country music wonder Dolly Parton ever tuned in to the discussions of psychic benefits and phenomena. Clearly, though, for anyone who cherishes the lyrics of Dolly Parton’s songs nearly as deeply as the Scriptures of the Bible, the songwriter has a connection to the spiritual realm like no other artist.
Now, Dolly Parton and Dionne Warwick combine both admiration and passion in a new project, as revealed on Good Morning America and Yahoo News. Although the finished collaboration comes a little late for festivities on February 14, the soothing song makes the perfect Valentine.
All Dolly Parton needed was a reason
Between them, Dolly Parton and Dionne Warwick have a collection of 17 Grammys. Both have Lifetime Achievement awards, along with every conceivable honor known to an artist. Despite their combined accolades, these ladies never joined in song until Peace Like A River.
In a sense, however, Dolly and Dionne have a family connection. Dionne Warwick’s cousin is the incomparable Whitney Houston, who Dolly Parton credits for bringing her classic I Will Always Love You to heights the songwriter herself could never dream of.
Warwick declares that everything about this project is “preordained” because “it’s a family affair.” The golden-voiced singer further elaborates how “we both have families who love to sing.” Obviously, too, judging from the quick opening snippet of the song, Dolly Parton and his partner intimately understand that gospel comes from a source within the soul. Speaking of family, Dionne Warwick’s son and manager, Damon Elliott, serves as producer on the track.
For her part, Dolly gushes that “she’s always been one of my heroes,” speaking of Warwick. “She’s a true stylist,” Dolly Parton insists. The only thing missing was that “I always wished I had some reason to get to sing with her.” As it turns out, the perfect song was there for decades. From a time when the songwriter herself pleaded for peace, this was the moment to bring the song to the multitudes, singing together, on a song “everybody needs to feel,” Dionne Warwick emphasizes.
Dionne and Dolly understand the need for peace and the pain of loss
“You go through things in your life and career,” Dolly Parton recalls of writing Peace Like A River in the 80s. “I just need to feel peace,” she speaks of her plea to God. “I just need to flow easy.” The version of the song that Parton shared with Warwick was “just an old demo tape,” according to Dolly. Still, the song struck them both with a divine intervention that the song, the singers, and the moment were in perfect harmony.
Sadly, just as God grants peace in desperate times of need, there is no pardon from wrenching losses in life. Country Music Alley chronicled the loss in April of 2021 of Dolly Parton’s uncle, mentor, career inspiration, and forever stalwart supporter, Bill Owens.
“I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t been there,” Dolly Parton tenderly eulogized.
Only months earlier, Dolly Parton and her family suffered the loss of her brother, Randy, at just 67 years old.
Today, Dionne Warwick honors the towering artist who crafted the songs to catapult the deserving backup singer to stardom worldwide, Burt Bacharach, who passed at age 94 on Wednesday (February 8) this week.
“Burt’s transition is like losing a family member,” Dionne Warwick writes on social media. In reverence and respect, she capitalizes “Dear Friend” and “Musical Partner.”
Burt’s transition is like losing a family member. These words I’ve been asked to write are being written with sadness over the loss of my Dear Friend and my Musical Partner. On the lighter side we laughed a lot and had our run ins, but
— Dionne Warwick (@dionnewarwick) February 9, 2023
The songs and the solace remain timeless
Remarkably, Dolly Parton at 77, and Dionne Warwick at 82, each lay claim to incredible legacies of songs and defining an era. While Parton introduced and shaped her own artistry with Coat Of Many Colors, Someone I Used To Know, and Two Sides To Every Story with Porter Wagoner before launching into her own stratosphere, Dionne Warwick became the sole songstress chosen by Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David for a defining cavalcade of unforgettable music. Together with David, Bacharach, and Warwick rode the wave of Do You Know The Way To San Jose, I Say A Little Prayer For You, and what many feel is the most perfect heartbreak love song ever written, Walk On By. No one imagines these songs without Burt Bacharach or Dionne Warwick.
Speaking of imagining songs, Dionne Warwick singles out 9 To 5 as her favorite Dolly Parton song. In turn, Dolly Parton breaks into Do You Know The Way To San Jose immediately after Robin Roberts asks her selection. When it comes to true, new friends, it’s not every day that one plays her acrylic nails to accompany the song, as Dolly did. Dionne understands That’s What Friends Are For, bringing hope and love in times when neither is in sight. Peace Like A River seems perfectly on time. The song and accompanying video release on February 24.
Keep up with Dolly Parton’s many projects on Country Music Alley and leave your comments on Peace Like A River.