It will be incredible. If my gown had buttons they will be bursting all over the place.
Dionne Warwick doesn't get butterflies. Before she steps on stage for the first time ever in the Bay on November 11, she says she won't be nervous.
"People are there for a purpose, to see and hear me so that is what I have in my mind. I love what I do, and I hope the audience will be feeling the same."
Warwick is playing a one-off gig at ASB Baypark as part of her Greatest Hits tour, with the only other New Zealand concert in Christchurch.
It will be a family affair, with Warwick accompanied by her two sons, David on drums and Damen as producer of her last two CDs.
She will also introduce her beloved granddaughter, Cheyenne Elliott, on stage and sing a duet with her.
Warwick says it fills her with great pride.
"It will be incredible. If my gown had buttons they will be bursting all over the place."
Her granddaughter has big shoes to fill. Warwick, 78, ranks among the top 40 biggest hit makers of the entire rock era and is second only to the late Aretha Franklin as the most charted female vocalist of all time, with 56 of her singles making the Billboard Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998.
She has won five Grammy Awards between 1965 and 2014 and been a finalist 14 times.
Over the course of her career, she has won many other lifetime achievement awards including being a Grammy Hall of Fame recipient three times.
Born Marie Dionne Warrick (the original spelling) in New Jersey in December 1940, she began singing in the family gospel choir called the Drinkard Singers in the late 50s.
"I come from a family of gospel singers and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
She still remembers clearly the day of her big break in 1962.
While singing backing vocals on the Drifters' recording of Mexican Divorce, she was noticed by the song's composer, Burt Bacharach who approached her to record some of his and lyricist Hal David's compositions.
On her first solo single, Don't Make Me Over, the label mispelt her name as Warwick, which stuck and she began using.
"I answer to both," she says.
Bacharach and David were perfectionists, she says, who expected the melodies to be sung
the way they were written.
The collaboration led to a 10-year run of delicious melodies in songs like Walk On By, I Say A Little Prayer, I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself and Do You Know The Way To.
When resigned to Arista records in the 80s, a chance meeting with the record company owner and singer Barry Gibb at a lunch led to the hit collaboration Heartbreaker.
Gibb asked Davis about his artists, and Davis had them written on a list in his pocket which he brought out.
Gibb alighted on Warwick and the resulting duet with the Bee Gees ruled the charts and became Warwick's biggest hit.
It will be one in the repertoire delivered to the Bay crowd on November 11, and Warwick says she never tires of performing her classics. "I love doing what I do, music is my life, it is wonderful to share the melodies, and to see people smile."
What: Dionne Warwick Greatest Hits Tour
When: Sunday, November 11
Where: Baypark Arena, Mt Maunganui
How: Tickets from ticketek.co.nz