What turns into a legend most? On a brisk day final week in downtown Newark, the reply was a floor-length plaid wool coat; a pair of Uggs with half-dollar-size Swarovski crystal buttons; large glasses with violet lenses; what gave the impression to be a hand-tooled leather-based fanny pack; and a tan baseball cap. It was a glance that mentioned, “I’m older, I like consolation, however don’t you dare image me in a tracksuit.”

Dionne WarwickIllustration by João Fazenda

The legend was Dionne Warwick, a month shy of her eighty-first birthday and nonetheless possessed of cheekbones that would slice open a thumb. The event was an artwork exhibition partly impressed by her six a long time as an award-winning entertainer, however absolutely in thrall to her late-blossoming Twitter account, which prior to now yr has added a brand new and typically crotchety dimension to her public profile. As a singer, she is understood for the sunshine, soulful contact with which she navigated tough Burt Bacharach melodies in such hits as “Stroll On By” and “I Say a Little Prayer”—performances celebrated for his or her precision. Millennials might have first encountered her within the nineteen-nineties, because the genial star-next-door host of infomercials for the Psychic Buddies Community, at all times hitting her marks however typically permitting a touch of aggrieved incredulity to flicker throughout her face. On Twitter, she simply lets fly, shelling out straight speak, blunt recommendation, wit, and non sequiturs in roughly equal measure.

Though she’d had a quiet, backwater account for years, she went unexpectedly viral final December fifth, after tweeting at Chance the Rapper, “In case you are very clearly a rapper why did you place it in your stage title? I can not cease excited about this.” A half hour later, she took intention on the Weeknd: “Why? It’s not even spelled appropriately?”

She now has greater than half one million followers and has been the topic of a “Saturday Night time Reside” impersonation by Ego Nwodim. Her on-line voice is so properly established that, like Jack Benny, she will get amusing with the Twitter equal of a raised eyebrow. A easy however piercing “What?” was her riposte to some latest gobbledygook from @Meta in regards to the coming wonders of “the metaverse.” She added, in a jab on the firm’s pretensions and likewise at her personal Golden Lady persona, “I nonetheless name it ‘Ebook Face.’ ”

At present was her first probability to see the artwork exhibit, titled “Dionne Warwick: Queen of Twitter.” Dignitaries greeted her, together with the mayor, Ras Baraka. Warwick, who grew up close by, in East Orange, and now lives in South Orange, allowed that she felt “not solely blessed however overwhelmed.”

Strolling via the gallery, she smiled as a number of of the artists defined their works, often at some size. A big set up by Dianne Smith featured a proscenium comprised of braided butcher paper, surrounding a display enjoying a video that intercut present and historic clips of Warwick with scenes from the civil-rights struggles of the nineteen-sixties and at the moment. The work was impressed partially by Warwick’s tweet in regards to the killing of Daunte Wright by police, final April, in Minnesota: “Earlier than I’m going I want to ask when will this insanity cease!” On a lighter and extra Instagrammable be aware was a neon signal spelling out “Auntie.” This was the artist Pamela Council’s response to Warwick’s 2021 New 12 months’s Day proclamation: “I’m everybody’s Auntie.”

On the entire, Warwick appeared each delighted by the fuss and a bit of amused. “It’s superb what these artists have been capable of accomplish,” she mentioned. “And off of tweets? Come on, please.” She betrayed a possibly comprehensible ambivalence towards her new platform. (In spite of everything, she nonetheless sings and excursions!) “I don’t do it on daily basis,” she insisted. “I don’t stand up within the morning and say, ‘Oh, I gotta tweet, I gotta tweet.’ ”

All the identical, she mentioned she enjoys being Twitter’s “grownup,” throwing largely cheerful shade as an antidote to the same old toxicity—the “bashing” she disliked when her nieces and nephews first launched her to the medium. Though a kind of nieces handles her different social-media accounts, she mentioned that her tweets are all hers. “I’ve no filter in the case of being sincere,” she added. She credited her grandfather, a minister in whose church she sang as a woman. “He instructed me ages in the past, and I didn’t neglect it, ‘Why inform a lie when the reality is offered?’ ”

Was she at all times so unfiltered? Earlier than she might reply, her cousin Diane Whitt, seated subsequent to her, nodded sure with comedian forcefulness. “Oh, yeah, my foot has been in my mouth a number of instances,” Warwick mentioned, laughing. “I by no means discover any cause to not be straight up. I’ve no cause to not be me.” Cousin Diane nodded once more. ♦

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