The Grammy-winning singer isn’t afraid to pick a fight on Twitter. But it’s all in good fun.
By Sandra E. Garcia
Dionne Warwick has had a Twitter account for years, but recently her followers thought she might have been hacked.
Ms. Warwick, 79, like so many of us, has been cooped up in her house for much of this year and spending a lot of her time online. In tweet after tweet, her brazen and elegant personality has been on full display, bringing her more than 150,000 followers.
Almost daily, Ms. Warwick’s followers ask her if it’s really her behind the account, which for years had been run by her social media team. She assures them time and again that yes, it is actually her tweeting. This week, she sent that message out loud and clear in a video:
“Well, hello, and this is for all of you tweeters who have decided that I’m not tweeting my own stuff to you,” Ms. Warwick said while sitting in front of a calendar hung to the month of December with two Pomeranians pictured. “I want you to know: I am and I am getting very, very, good at it.”
She is getting good at it. So far this month, she has “grounded” a handful of her followers, learned what a hot girl was against her wishes, released merchandise with the word “hussy” on it, tweeted a meme and made fun of herself for trying to fit in on a platform whose user base age skews much younger.
Ms. Warwick has made it clear that she is not to be messed with onstage or in these Twitter streets. The five-time Grammy winner has spent her time calling out artists with the word “the” in their name, like Chance the Rapper. After Chance responded, they had a meet cute on the phone. Now they’re collaborating on a song produced by Ms. Warwick’s son Damon Elliot.
It isn’t all niceties on Ms. Warwick’s feed. Her years in showbiz in the 1960s and ’70s taught her how to deal her critics, at one point calling someone a “hussy” in a since deleted tweet. (And don’t even get her started on Wendy Williams.) But her comebacks come off as warm, wry and sagacious in true auntie fashion.
Although she’s something of a natural on the platform, Ms. Warwick said her niece Brittani Warwick, taught her how to use Twitter this fall. Since then, it has been a place where she goes to “talk to people” and kill some time while she isolates during the pandemic.
This interview has been edited.
What caused you to bring your talents to Twitter?
I saw all the fun everyone else was having, and it’s something to do during this period of time when I am literally doing nothing. They shut down at the end of February and I have been home since then.
Do you know you are being considered the queen of Twitter?
No! Really? That is too funny!
I know that you’re promoting a campaign to feed the hungry on your birthday. Can you tell me more about that?
Yes. With an organization called Hunger Not Impossible. They asked me to be an ambassador for the organization and add my voice to asking people to be of service to those who can’t be of service themselves.
I usually give myself a birthday party, but unfortunately Covid decided that nobody was going to do anything this year. My son Damon put together this virtual event for me where people could purchase packages to just hang out with me. It is my birthday gift to me this year. There’s going to be music, and I thought if we’re going to do a Christmas party let me ask the people who are featured on my album to sing with me. And I did and they said yes. So those people are going to be there too.
Have you ever been to a virtual party?
I have never been to a virtual party. This is my first one. It should be a lot of fun.
In the video you tweeted this week you were sitting in front of a Pomeranian calendar that your followers loved. Do you love Pomeranians?
At one time I had four of them. Pomeranians are my favorite dogs. I get the calendars every year.
Have you seen Maya Rudolph’s impersonation of you on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?”
No, I haven’t, but I have friends who’ve seen it and said great things. Her mother, the late Minnie Riperton, and I knew each other during the 1970s. We met thanks to Stevie Wonder, who co-produced Minnie’s big hit, “Lovin’ You.”
I saw that you called out Chance the Rapper for having “the” in his name. Why?
I had a wonderful conversation with that young man on the phone, and he is so impressive. He is single-handedly trying to save Chicago — everything he is doing with the homeless and teachers. What’s most impressive is his fear of God. That is important to me. I love his song with Justin Bieber, “Holy.”
I am going to ask you about a couple of artists with the in their names and you let me know if you know them. The Alchemist?
Benny the Butcher?
The butcher? No.
Can you tell me how you define the word “hussy”?
I’m never going to live this down! “Hussy” takes on different connotations. It is a matter of how you want to use and with who you want to use it.
Do you know what a clapback is?
I think it sounds like someone who is debating and combative.
Your “hussy” tweet was a clapback, Ms. Warwick. How often do you use the word “hussy"?
Do you like that a younger generation is getting to know you this way?
This has always been me. I like being me because I like me. Why shouldn’t I use it? It makes me happy. They can’t take my happiness away from me.
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