Darlene Love jumped at the chance to tour with her friend Dionne Warwick again.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who brought to life girl-group classics like “He’s a Rebel” and “He’s Sure the Boy I Love” has long credited Warwick with helping keep her career afloat during some of the leaner times.
“When my manager called and asked if I wanted to do a tour with Dionne, I said, ‘Are you kidding? This would be like a rainbow for me’,” says Love, calling from her home in upstate New York. “I've worked with her during the time all our children were being born. Our children grew up together. They knew one another. And then, of course, I became friends with the whole family — not just Dionne, the sisters and the cousins and everybody. So we've had a lasting relationship. We don't see or talk to each other as much as we used to, but when we were all coming up, I mean, I lived almost as much in New Jersey as much as I lived in California.”
And for Love, this tour, which stops at NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Thursday, June 27, is extra special because it features new music from both of them. “It’s so good to be able to do some new songs,” says Love, who will turn 78 next month. “You know, I didn’t do an album for so long because I didn't want to record. It’s that, somehow, producers think that people over 50 cannot sing or sell records. We all get to that age at one time, if we’re lucky. Even the ones that's hot right now, if they live long enough, they're going to get to 50.”
Love says the songs from her 2015 album, “Introducing Darlene Love” (Wicked Cool/Columbia), produced by pal Steven Van Zandt, continue to win fans over. “The more I sing those songs in my show, the more people want to know where they can find them,” she says. “It's really great because the music is today's, not 50 years ago. It's about what's going on today and how we all feel today. It’s not puppy love anymore.”
She says she now opens her shows with the powerful “Among the Believers,” a rousing anthem from a distinctly adult point of view. “We are poets, we’re soldiers, we’re children of the night,” Love declares. “With the turn of a dial we’re sanctified.”
This is “He’s a Rebel” all grown up and that’s why she loves it. “Two things that are hard to find for entertainers when they're working — an opening song and a closing song,” Love says. “The middle songs sort of comes together. But now I have a great song that belongs to Darlene Love. And until I find a better song, I'll be using this because everybody seems to love it. One thing about Stevie Van Zandt, he wanted to do an album that was a Darlene Love album, but not the 1960 Darlene Love. So the sound of it is great. It has that flavor of ‘Everybody's great. Everybody's having fun.’ And it livens the audience up.”
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Love has joked for years that she needs to work outside the holiday months, where “The Queen of Christmas” rules with classics like “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” But between this tour with Warwick, working on a new gospel album, and some unexpected acting gigs, she’s not going to get her usual summertime resting period this year, though that’s just fine with her.
Love just finished filming on “Holiday Rush” for Netflix, where she stars with LaLa Anthony, Romany Malco and Deon Cole. “It was a surprise,” says Love, best known for acting-wise for her role of Trish Murtaugh in the “Lethal Weapon” movies. “They came to ask me to do this movie. I didn't have to audition for it… I didn't want to play a mama or a grandmother and they still found a great role for me… My husband would say, ‘That’s just like you. I can hear you saying these words.’ I think it’s the right part for me, which was great and a lot of fun.”
Love says she believes in patience. “You have to wait until the time is right — after 55 years in, this is when the time is right,” she says, laughing. “They have been finding things for me to do… I've been really blessed to be able to be part of our musical history and in certain movies. That's a great way for people to remember you.”
And she says the current controversy about the lack of women in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will also be solved by patience. “Everything in our lifetimes has always started off with the men dominating,” she says. “Even in sports, women didn't play basketball. They didn't play soccer… they didn't do any of that stuff. And now they're doing that. It's like everything else. It takes a minute… Now, it's up to us that are already in it to make a way for other females. People would always tell me, ‘You should have been in years ago.’ I would say the timing was perfect.”
Love says things happen when they’re supposed to and she is happy with where she is. “Everything is kind of moving along in my direction right now,” she says. “It’s all going good.”
WHO Darlene Love
WHEN|WHERE 8 p.m. Thursday, June 27, NYCB Theatre at Westbury, Westbury
INFO $44.50-$129.50; 800-745-3000, livenation.com
THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR
Dionne Warwick has always been a great collaborator and her new album “She’s Back” (Kind/Entertainment One) continues that half-century tradition, including new work with Musiq Soulchild, Brian McKnight and Krayzie Bone. Here’s a look at Warwick’s most successful collaborations:
“THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR” Credited to Dionne & Friends, the anthem from Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder was released as a fundraising single for AIDS research in 1985 and won the Grammy for song of the year. (No. 1, 4 weeks, 1986)
“THEN CAME YOU” Her collaboration with The Spinners was part of the Philadelphia Soul movement of the mid-‘70s, the precursor to disco, became her biggest hit up to that point. (No. 1, 1 week, 1974)
“I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER” The biggest hit of her numerous recordings of Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs, it was originally meant to be a declaration of love and support to a soldier in the Vietnam War, but has been recorded numerous times by everyone from Aretha Franklin to Bomb the Bass. (No. 4, 1967) — GLENN GAMBOA