Southern Divas

Dionne Warwick, the legendary singer and classy lady, was on the future president’s TV show last week. Wouldn’t Donald Trump be great as our Chief Executive? The current disparity between the very rich and the poor mirrors that of most third world countries. All we need is an insane, power crazy dictator. The Donald would be perfect.

Based on the previews from The Apprentice, Ms. Warwick has become a spoiled diva. I find that hard to believe; Ms. Warwick has always projected and aura of stately elegance, refined beyond belief. Even when her niece Whitney Houston made some poor choices, Dionne seemed to rise above the trashiness. I am more amazed that she would submit to such degradation as trying to be rational with Gary Busey. Maybe Meat Loaf talked her into it.

Dionne Warwick
Credit: Leslie Rae

In my impressionable teen years, I saw Dionne Warwick at Foster auditorium in Tuscaloosa. Her appearance occurred during a breathtaking stretch where Ray Charles, Little Anthony, and James Brown graced the stage in a span of a few months.

Dionne’s concert happened in the summer and the old auditorium was as hot as Ted Haggard at Fantasy Fest. Ms. Warwick wore a full length gown and must have been miserable. Acting as cool as the other side of the pillow between songs, she delicately dabbed her face and neck when necessary with a lace hanky slipped under the edge of her full length sleeves.

The most impressive thing about the lady was that she acted like one. I can’t imagine the woman who sang that night; so wonderfully, so coolly, so confident; being a diva. It is puzzling she even considered doing The Apprentice. Dionne Warwick was way too classy.

The other exceptionally memorable thing about that hot night in Tuscaloosa was sitting next to me. Charlotte Ray. My Oh My. Charlotte was one of those girls we all went to school with who advanced faster than everyone else. She was light years beyond the other girls in our class and as far out of my league as was possible. She didn’t date anyone younger than college juniors and didn’t associate with any male who wasn’t rich, handsome, and extremely mature. And she still outclassed them all. She could have overpowered People Magazine’s Sexiest Man.

For me to have a date with Charlotte Ray was like Vandy claiming the BCS title, like David Caruso winning an Oscar, like Charlie Sheen becoming Pope. She was first cousin to the Anderson boys who lived in our neighborhood and we had a couple of classes together from junior high on. Charlotte and I were close enough friends to sit together during lunch but not close enough for me to carry her books.

She was as near perfect as any of us wide eyed little bundles of snips, snails, and developing testosterone had ever seen; ever imagined. And I was sitting next to her at the Dionne Warwick concert.

Charlotte may have gone out with me as a prank or that was the only way to hear Walk on By live. I don’t know and didn’t care. I even got a life time achievement good night kiss. It’s been forty five years and I still get chill bumps. Two classy ladies in one memorable night.

I saw Charlotte years later at her cousin’s wedding. Still looked astounding. Didn’t get to talk to her and haven’t seen her since.

I hope she’s better off than Dionne these days.

Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.