A Forever 5th Dimension Exclusive Review by Robert-Allan Arno
The City of Brotherly Love became even more enchanting than its usual likeable self as the prestigious Marion Anderson Award–reflecting the historically celebrated essence of the trailblazing African American contralto–was given to Dionne Warwick at the spectacular Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia on Tuesday, November 14. And there to honor the Songstress of Smooth were recording impresario Clive Davis, local radio legend Jerry Blavat as MC, the powerful Darlene Love, the sentimentally soulful Russell Thompkins Jr. & the new Stylistics, and our very own Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.
Introduced by Blavat with a cute, “Do you remember that beautiful girl from The 5th Dimension and her handsome boyfriend,” it wasn’t too far of a stretch as the eternally youthful Marilyn & Billy–now married 48 years–entered the cavernous hall with a rousing “Up-Up and Away.” Followed by “You Don’t Have to Be a Star,” and an ovation-inducing “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” the duo made timeless tunes seem all the more age-proof with their pristine notes and energetic verve. Indeed, McCoo delivered rich tones and scaled her trademark highs while Davis was at his “crystalline crisp” R&B best, not to mention presenting it all with welcomed agile “MarBill” dance moves n’ grooves.
A sleekly gowned Marilyn emoted, “We find Dionne Warwick to be one of our greatest contemporaries,” while the debonair Billy added, “If we’re appearing in the same town, we never miss a chance to see her.” Marilyn then shared with a confidential air, “When The 5th Dimension was planning its second TV special, we asked Dionne to be our guest, and we couldn’t believe she accepted! The songs that Florence (LaRue) and I performed with Dionne…I can’t tell you how much we learned from her.” In response, Miss Warwick was beaming from her royal box seat. “Dionne, this one’s just for you,” Billy introduced as the strains of “I Know I’ll Never Love this Way Again” began. Turning Lady W’s hit into a classic “MarBill” duet for the occasion was a stroke of genius, with kudos going to Music Director, Darrell Alston.
At the backstage hospitality suite, Marilyn mentioned to me about their final song choice, “We wanted to do something special for this event.” I noted, “This could have been on THE MANY FACES OF LOVE project.” Marilyn and Billy responded simultaneously, “We thought of that and may just continue including it in our current shows!” It was much fun to visit with the ingratiating twosome trading all sorts of endearing stories…also joining were eternal fans Susie Paige, Cynthia Malachi White, plus (pictured) Philly musician Samadhi X Koamane and his brother Nemon who presented Marilyn with a one-of-a-kind piece from his jewelry line of “wearable art.” Before our final hugs, Marilyn and Billy mentioned, “Please tell everyone we look forward to seeing them next on the Colors of Christmas tour!”
For more information about the Colors of Christmas tour, Dec. 3-17: https://www.thecolorsofchristmas.com/
Enjoy Marilyn & Florence with Dionne in “She’s A Lady”: https://youtu.be/gcvM7RGJWKs
Marilyn & Florence trade hits with Dionne–“Up-Up and Away,” “Save the Country,” “Sweet Blindness,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “Walk on By,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,”– watch here: https://youtu.be/D7RK_15gecM
“Like” Marilyn & Billy’s Official FB page, follow them on Twitter @mccoodavis or visit them at: http://www.mccoodavis,com
Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno, a production of The Soul of the Voice, Ltd., copyright ’08-2017, intellectual property, all rights reserved.