Performance

Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson (Born February 20, 1937) is an American singer with a career spanning over six decades. With her rich, velvety tone and impeccable phrasing, Wilson established herself as one of the premier jazz vocalists of her era. Born in Chillicothe, Ohio, Wilson grew up in Columbus and began singing as a youth, appearing on local television and radio shows. After briefly attending Central State College, she sang with Rusty Bryant’s Carolyn Club Big Band and eventually relocated to New York City in 1959.

It was in New York that Wilson’s career took flight. She cut her debut album “Like in Love” for Capitol Records in 1960 and landed her first major gig at The Blue Morocco club. Her breakthrough came in 1963 with her album “Hello Young Lovers” which highlighted her exquisite interpretations of Broadway and jazz standards.

Throughout the 1960s, Wilson released a string of acclaimed albums like “Lush Life,” “Broadway – My Way,” and the Grammy-winning “How Glad I Am.” Her emotive vocal stylings earned her the nicknames “Song Stylist Supreme” and “Sweet Nancy.” She frequently collaborated with top arrangers like Billy May, Gerald Wilson, and Cannonball Adderley.

In the 1970s and 80s, Wilson remained a force in jazz while expanding into R&B, pop, and even opera performing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Career highlights include an NAACP Image Award, appearances on The Tonight Show, and being cast as the mother of Aretha Franklin in the 1980 musical film “The Wiz.”

Now in her 80s, Nancy Wilson is considered a living legend with over 70 albums released. Her influence has extended across multiple genres, earning her honors like the NEA Jazz Masters Award and NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award. With her aristocratic presence and sophisticated style, Wilson left an indelible mark on American songs.

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