Dionne Warwick is surprise guest in Gladys Knight-Patti LaBelle Verzuz battle (that’s what friends are for)

Just when the epic Battle of Verzuz between music legends Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle looked like it couldn’t be more impressive, Dionne warwick introduced himself.

Warwick, who grew up in East Orange, joined knight and The beautiful Sunday for two songs towards the end of the event, broadcast live from the Fillmore in LaBelle’s native Philadelphia.

The theater may have been nearly empty, but more than half a million people listened to the musical battle on Instagram Live. They watched with joy and adoration LaBelle, 76, and Knight, 76, expertly deliver classics like “Midnight train to Georgia“(Gladys Knight and the Pips, 1973) and”Lady Marmelade“(Labelle, 1974), among many others.

the Verzuz battles, launched by producers Timbaland and Swizz beatz in March, have become top entertainment in the COVID-19 pandemic, standing out among a host of other streaming events and programming. Previous battles, not limited to but including Brandy vs. Monica, Jill Scott vs. Erykah Badu, Teddy Riley vs. Babyface, DMX vs. Snoop Dogg and Alicia Keys vs. John Legend, have drawn millions of Instagram Live viewers.

The singers and rappers both told stories about the songs in their catalog as the recordings were played and joined the backing tracks to give live concerts.

Warwick, 79, lent his voice to a performance of his Grammy-winning song “That’s what friends are for.“She recently celebrated the most 100,000,000 views on YouTube.

In 1985, Warwick covered the song – written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager and first recorded by Rod Stewart – with Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder benefiting the American Foundation for AIDS Research, raising over $ 3 million.

The cover of “Dionne Warwick and Friends” won the Grammy for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1987.

“Haven’t seen you for so long,” Warwick said, greeting LaBelle and Knight.

She also joined LaBelle and Knight for a performance of “Wonderful womanThe song, originally recorded by Karyn White in 1988, was covered by Knight, LaBelle and Warwick in 1991.

Warwick, a five-time Grammy winner and Lifetime Achievement Award winner in 2019, had become a topic of conversation in the comments under the Battle of Verzuz even before she made her surprise appearance. If Knight and LaBelle were there, some wondered where Warwick was?

The talent from New Jersey, who is the niece of gospel singer Cissy Houston and first cousin of her daughter, Whitney Houston, composed 12 songs in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 during his 60-year career. Warwick was mentioned alongside Anita Baker and other greats in music as fans applauded Knight and LaBelle’s collaborative effort, which felt less like a battle than a pure celebration of their work, the two talents often playing in duet or serving as choristers.

Music veterans have nine Grammys and four No. 1 songs between them.

“We just wanted to give you a piece of our heart and our mind,” Knight said at the end of the show. She’s ready to play the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City next April.

Other Verzuz Battles have included Rick Ross vs. 2 Chainz, Beenie Man vs. Bounty Killer, Fabolous vs. Jadakiss, 112 vs. Jagged Edge, and T-Pain vs. Lil Jon. Check out the replay of Gladys Knight vs. Patti LaBelle (featuring Dionne Warwick) at Verzuz TV Instagram Account.

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Amy Kuperinsky can be reached at [email protected]. Send coronavirus advice here.