This week Oprah Winfrey announced that her OWN network’s first scripted TV movie will be a treatment of the memoir “My Name Is Love: The Darlene Love Story." This is a cherry on the top of a lot of recent good fortune for Love, who will perform a Valentine’s Day concert at Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse.
Also sweet, attending the March 2 Academy Awards, where “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” a profile of Love and other under-appreciated (and often un-credited) backup singers of the past 50 years, is up for a best-documentary Oscar.
“This is probably one of the best times of my life,” the singer, 72, says from her home in Rockland County, N.Y.
While Love's memoir is strewn with celebrity fun (an affair with Elvis Presley during his 1968 comeback tour would have happened had she let it, Love says), it is the tough times that make Love’s life so compelling.
It was in 1980 that Love was out of gigs and out of money, with a job cleaning homes in Beverly Hills, when the homeowner’s radio began to serenade her with “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” the now-iconic song by the Blossoms featuring Love’s signature brassy soulfulness.
““She happened to have her radio on, and of all the songs they could have played, that’s the one that came on. I don’t think it gets any clearer than that what I should have been doing,” says the California native.
Love says she swallowed her pride and made a few calls to friends she’d helped over the years. Record mogul Lou Adler and Dionne Warwick lent her money, and she cold-called Carnival Cruise Lines at the Port of Los Angeles, and got a job singing on board for the next two years.
In 1982, Adler offered to host a Darlene Love showcase at the Roxy nightclub in Los Angeles and invite a few friends. Among the audience members knocked out by her performance were Bruce Springsteen and sidekick Steve Van Zandt.
The two convinced Love to move to New York, where the singer heard on such favorites as the Crystal's "Da Do Ron Ron," Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang,” the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” and Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” was rediscovered as a solo act.
Love, hailed as "one of the greatest singers of all time" by Rolling Stone magazine and "a one-woman wall of sound" by Springsteen, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Love says she and Van Zandt are working on a new Darlene Love album.
The singer’s Friday set will include hits such as “He’s a Rebel,” "He's Sure The Boy I Love" and “Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry,” with a sprinkling of gospel and Marvin Gaye. But a Darlene Love concert on such a romantic night is an alignment the singer finds fun, too.
“On Valentine’s Day I actually do something very special for the audience. I don’t tell them what it is, but it’s big,” she says. “Love is an action word, not just a feeling.”
IF YOU GO
Darlene Love performs 8 p.m. Feb. 14 at Parker Playhouse (707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets: $37.50-$47.50. Call 954-462-0222 or go to ParkerPlayhouse.org.
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