Nancy Wilson a three-time Grammy Award-winning singer whose precise intonation and jazz and pop vocals made her one of the country’s most popular performers for the five decades of her musical career died November 29th. She was 81. Wilson had a strong following in Europe and also in Japan, where she recorded at least five live albums.
At the encouragement of Cannonball Adderley, whom Wilson met while she
was still living in Ohio and honing her talents as a performer, Wilson moved
to New York City in 1959 and worked with Adderley’s manager. With his
influence, she landed a plum gig at the Blue Morocco in Manhattan, filling in
for their ailing vocalist. She performed well and was received so
enthusiastically, that she was asked to stay and sing four nights a week,
which she did. She recorded her first album,
in 1962, during that
rush of success.
In 1964, she recorded what were to become her signature songs, which hit
the charts soon after release, including “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am,”
the song that won the Grammy Award that year. A year later, she recorded a
second album that featured her hit, “Guess Who I Saw Today.”
In addition to performing, recording and touring, Wilson appeared in
numerous popular television shows and on commercial. She was a
spokesperson for Thunderbird wine and Campbell’s soup. She was given her
own weekly variety show on NBC,
The Nancy Wilson Show
which won an Emmy in 1968.
Wilson recorded 70 albums during her career, received the NAACP Image
Award in 1998 and was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in
1999. She received a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award in
Wilson was active in the civil rights movement and was a spokesperson for
the Urban League. She was honored for her work in social justice when she
was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. National Historical Site in Atlanta in 2005.
She retired officially from performing in 2011, and lived quietly in
Pioneertown, California, until her death from kidney cancer.