“I Say A Little Prayer” Performed by Dionne Warwick (1967) & Aretha Franklin (1968)

January 28, 2010


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Probably one of the most under-rated pop singers of my generation is Dionne Warwick.

Brought up in the gospel world in a musical extended family, Dionne formed the “Gospelaires” singing group with her sister Dee Dee and her aunt Cissy Houston ( later the mother of Whitney Houston).  Dionne and her group did vocal session work in New York on weekends while she studied music on scholarship in college during the week.

The story goes that Dionne was asked to provide vocals for some demos written by the songwriting-producing team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, while in the studio working on the backing vocal for the Drifter’s song “Mexican Divorce.”

When the composing duo pitched the demo(s) to Scepter Records, the head of the label (Florence Greenberg) liked what she heard and signed Dionne to a recording contract.

Bacharach and David wrote her first song for recording and the rest is legend!

Dionne sang her first and all  subsequent Bacharach and David unusually complicated songs with ease, grace and smoothness. Her voice is just so mellow  yet expressive and her singing sounds effortless. I recall playing with my Barbie doll in her black evening gown, microphone and pink scarf singing nothing but Dionne Warwick songs because even as a youngster she epitomized class to me!

Warwick charted high continuously from 1963 up until 1980 before her recording career began to slow down a bit.

This 1967 the single, “I Say A Little Prayer,” charted #8 R&B and #4 on the Billboard Top 100.  The song appeared on Dionne’s LP  of the same year “The Windows of the World”  pictured above.

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Aretha obviously loved the song too because only a year later she put her spin on the tune and released her cover of Dionne’s hit.  Naturally The Queen of  Soul’s version was a hit too!  Charting #3 R&B and #10 Pop in 1968.  The song appeared on her 1968 certified Gold classic LP  “Aretha Now”  pictured above.

Over the years, Aretha’s hit cover of Marie Dionne Warwick’s original hit has become the definitive version of the song. Don’t think  so? Then check this out –  my most favorite part of the movie “My Best Friend’s Wedding” is this clip: this is why I love YouTube :-)

Of course I want to know which of these two renditions of the Bachrach/David classic YOU like best so please vote.

And here are a few more related videos to enjoy while they last on YouTube.


Dionne and Boy George “Say A Little Prayer” together live in the 80s


Aretha  Says a Little Prayer live in 1970

Trivia: The Gospelaire’s  are thought to have provided backing vocals for Ben E. King’s “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand By Me.”

Musically Yours,

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Filed under:Aretha Covers and Hits,Aretha Franklin,Atlantic,Burt Bacharach & Hal David,Covers That Hit!,Dionne Warwick,Fabulous Female Vocalists,I Say A Little Prayer,Pop,Pop/Soul,R&B/Soul,Scepter,Sixties

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