The year was 1968. Dionne Warwick entered Sanremo together with Tony Del Monaco with the song “La voce del silenzio”. The outcome was not the greatest for the two artists, as they placed last in the grand final.
But their entry became one of the most famous Italian songs of all time anyway, performed by several stars, including tenor Andrea Bocelli.
And in 2018 — exactly 50 years after that participation — Warwick tried to take the stage of the long-lasting Italian music festival again.
Now a music legend and second only to Aretha Franklin as the most-charted female vocalist of all time, with 80 singles across all Billboard charts combined, Warwick watched her bid end as a heartbreaker.
Interviewed by Il Corriere della Sera, Dionne confirmed that the Sanremo 2018 committee rejected her entry “Sparami” (Shoot me), a duet with Italian singer Silvia Mezzanotte — who won the festival in 2002 with “Messaggio d’amore“.
“I had my suitcases already packed when I learned that ‘Sparami’ had not been admitted by the Festival artistic direction. And to think that in the last 20 years I have often been invited as a guest, but because of problems with my agenda or otherwise, I never managed to be there. This song with Silvia makes me emotional,” said the singer, who is Whitney Houston‘s cousin, with a degree of bitterness.
Dionne still remembers her participation in 1968: “I was on the stage with Tony Del Monaco, we finished in 14th. This could have been some nice revenge for me, since that was an injustice disproved by the international success of that song”.
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Silvia Mezzanotte shared her thoughts on their rejection: “I participated five times at Sanremo. I also won once, in 2002, with Matia Bazar. But going on stage by Dionne’s side would have been the consecration of my career”.
“I agreed to enter this song because the formula proposed this year by Claudio Baglioni (Sanremo 2018’s host and artistic director – ed) doesn’t provide for eliminations,” she added.
“As soon as she returns from her tour between Europe and South Africa, we will certainly do some gigs together. Meanwhile, I console myself enjoying these moments together at the Quad Recording Studios in New York”.
“Sparami” will be released in two versions, included in Silvia Mezzanotte’s next album, which will be out in April. The English one (entitled “I Give To You My Heart”) has lyrics written by David, one of Dionne’s sons.