Bowie State

Bowie State dedicates performing theater to legend Dionne Warrick

The ribbon-cutting for new Dionne Warwick Theater was a star-studded event.

R&B legend and philanthropist Dionne Warrick smiled from ear to ear as she pulled the rope unveiling the newly dedicated “Dionne Warwick Theater” inside Bowie State University’s Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Even though Warrick never attended Bowie State she has always had a tie with the university through her former background musician Dr. Clarence Knight. Knight was a former professor and Department Chair for Bowie State’s Fine and Performing Arts Program. Knight urged Warrick to visit the campus a few years back during her quest to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS and took a detour to the arts center. The icon immediately fell in love with the program and the students.

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Knight then started the process of dedicating the main theater to the six-time Grammy-nominated singer. But the pandemic slowed down its trajectory; in an interview with the Capital Gazette, Knight explained how having Dionne Warwick’s name attached to the theater would positively enhance the school.

“When you bring credibility to something, people pay attention to it. They get interested in it. We decided to go ahead and see if we could get her to come here and to really make a commitment, and she did.” Knight said.

And he was right, during the dedication ceremony, media, students, and even other celebrities gathered for the momentous occasion. Gospel Singer BeBe Winans joined Warrick for the unveiling along with Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen, and Tom Selleck shared their affection through video for their beloved friend.

Warwick’s timeless favorites, such as “That’s What Friends Are For,” “Walk on By,” and “I Say a Little Prayer,” were performed for the first time at the theater bearing her name by former and current Bowie State students.

Among those students was the daughter of Bowie Mayor Tim Adams. “The arts have the power to change our world,” Adams told Capital Gazette. “When you listen to Dionne Warwick you hear of the voice of many.”

Bowie State’s Fine and Performing Arts Program is no stranger to star-studded success. Celebrities like Toni Braxton and Myles Frost are products of the program. Department of Fine and Performing Arts Chair Tewodross Williams knew that having Warrick’s name attached to the theater would unlock new opportunities for funding, special performances, and even possibly some social change.

“We’re not only trying to create artists and creatives, but we want to create what I call socially engaged artists. We want our students to be connected socially, globally, and politically in terms of the world and what affects them. We encourage our students to use their art for social change.” said Williams.

Bowie State dedicates performing theater to legend Dionne Warrick
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