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  • Sydney Chandler

A Legend Has Dropped The Mic For A Final Time

Updated: Dec 16, 2018

Iconic "Vocal Stylist" Nancy Wilson Has Died At 81



In honor of the great #NancyWilson who was not only a phenomenal singer, but Emmy winner, talk show host and actress. In the photo above, she's standing in front of Capital Records in Hollywood in the 60's.

Nancy Wilson was an American singer whose career spanned over five decades, beginning in the mid–1950s until retiring in 2011. She was notable for her single "(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am". Wilson has more than seventy albums and has won three#GrammyAwards for her recordings. Wilson has been labeled a singer of blues, jazz, R&B, pop and soul, a "consummate actress", and "the complete entertainer". The title she prefers, however, is "song stylist". She has received many nicknames including "Sweet Nancy", "The Baby", "Fancy Miss Nancy" and "The Girl With the Honey-Coated Voice".

Wilson’s debut single, "Guess Who I Saw Today", was so successful that between April 1960 and July 1962 Capitol Records released five Nancy Wilson albums. Her first album, Like in Love, displayed her talent in Rhythm and Blues. Adderley suggested that she should steer away from her original pop style and gear her music toward jazz and ballads. In 1962, they collaborated, producing the album Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley, which propelled her to national prominence with the hit R&B song, "Save Your Love For Me", and Wilson would later appear on Adderley's live album In Person (1968).

Between March 1964 and June 1965, four of Wilson's albums hit the Top 10 on Billboard's Top LPs chart. In 1963 "Tell Me The Truth" became her first truly major hit, leading up to her performance at the Coconut Grove in 1964 – the turning point of her career, garnering critical acclaim from coast to coast. TIME said of her, "She is, all at once, both cool and sweet, both singer and storyteller." In 1964 Wilson released what became her most successful hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with "(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am", which peaked at No. 11. From 1963 to 1971 Wilson logged eleven songs on the Hot 100, including two Christmas singles. However, "Face It Girl, It's Over" was the only remaining non-Christmas song to crack the Top 40 for Wilson (#29, in 1968).

After making numerous television guest appearances, Wilson eventually got her own series on NBC, The Nancy Wilson Show (1967–1968), which won an Emmy. Over the years she has appeared on many popular television shows from I Spy (more or less playing herself as a Las Vegas singer in the 1966 episode "Lori", and a similar character in the 1973 episode "The Confession" of The F.B.I, Room 222, Hawaii Five-O, Police Story, The Jack Paar Program, The Sammy Davis Jr. Show (1966), The Danny Kaye Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Kraft Music Hall, The Sinbad Show,[6] The Cosby Show, The Andy Williams Show, The Carol Burnett Show, Soul Food, New York Undercover, and recently Moesha, and The Parkers.[10][13] She also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show, The Arsenio Hall Show and The Flip Wilson Show.

She was in the 1993 Robert Townsend's The Meteor Man and in the film, The Big Score. She also appeared on The Lou Rawls Parade of Stars and the March of Dime Telethon. She was signed by Capitol Records in the late 1970s and in an attempt to broaden her appeal she cut the album Life, Love and Harmony, an album of soulful, funky dance cuts that included the track "Sunshine", which was to become one of her most sought-after recordings (albeit among supporters of the rare soul scene with whom she would not usually register). In 1977 she recorded the theme song for The Last Dinosaur, a made-for-TV movie which opened in theaters in Japan.


SYDNEY CHANDLER is a Los Angeles based freelance journalist, essayist, screenwriter and producer. Sydney has written and produced documentaries, features, shorts, TV dramas and comedies. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to find out what’s going on in her ever-changing, globe-trotting world.

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