Sunday, July 18, 2021

Make Way for Dionne Warwick

Many in my generation vividly remember Dionne Warwick’s hit songs of the 60s: Walk On By (1964), I Say a Little Prayer (1967), and DoYou Know the Way to San Jose? (1968). The slickly orchestrated pop tunes (by Burt Bacharach and Hal David) were a perfect match to Warwick’s effortless high voice and precise delivery.

So what brings her to mind? Why, a press release from Fragrance Creators Association:

Fragrance Creators Association has announced that DDD3 Inc., owned by entertainer, entrepreneur and philanth­ropist Dionne Warwick, has joined its membership of more than 60 large and small businesses spanning the fragrance supply chain.

My reactions were, in descending order:

“That’s nice, Dionne Warwick is still alive.” (She is 80 years old.)

“What on earth does she have to do with fragrance?”

It turns out she launched a single, self-named perfume back in 1986. Dionne must not have been too memorable—there is no mention of it on and only a placeholder on Basenotes. Good luck trying to find a collectible bottle on eBay.

According to the FCA blurb, she plans to relaunch Dionne “in response to popular demand.” Or perhaps to leverage attention from her recent nomination to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Or perhaps to climb out of her 2013 bankruptcy and deal with an epic $7 million owed to the IRS.

DDD3, Inc., the company named in the press release, is not a fragrance house. It appears to be the corporate entity that books her ongoing musical performances. Warwick’s contract rider can be found online. Alas, it contains nothing as outrageous as Van Halen’s no-brown-M&Ms clause. Sure, Ms. Warwick must be flown first class, but most of the rider concerns stage lighting, rehearsal timing, and orchestra staffing (“Three (3) trombones-two (2) tenor & one (1) bass”). Her dressing room requirements are not particularly diva-ish. She prefers Pepsi (“No Coca Cola or Diet Sodas”), Cristal (“Two (2) bottles of Cristal Champagne per concert (NO SUBSTITUTES)” and is very specific about the fruit plate:

Fresh fruit platter: sliced pineapples, green seedless grapes, sliced watermelon, sliced honeydew melon, sliced cantaloupe melon and bananas. If any of the above fresh fruit is not in season, contact road manager.

Ms Warwick is entitled to earn whatever the market will bear and she is certainly playing every card she can as she climbs out of a deep financial hole. What lingers in the mind, however, is why the Fragrance Creators Association sees fit to include her and her company in its membership on the basis of a one-off scent that vanished after launch 35 years ago.

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