Nancy Wilson, Award-Winning Jazz Legend, Dies At 81
Her death was confirmed by her manager, Devra Hall Levy, who said Ms. Wilson had been ill for some time; she gave no other details.
During her performing career, Wilson was labeled a singer of blues, jazz, R&B, pop, and soul, a “consummate actress”, and “the complete entertainer”. The title she preferred, however, was “song stylist”. She received many nicknames including “Sweet Nancy”, “The Baby”, “Fancy Miss Nancy” and “The Girl With the Honey-Coated Voice”.
In a long and celebrated career, Ms. Wilson performed American standards, jazz ballads, Broadway show tunes, R&B torch songs and middle-of-the-road pop pieces, all delivered with a heightened sense of a song’s narrative.
Some of Ms. Wilson’s best-known recordings told tales of heartbreak, where she weaved in the art of storytelling with honesty and smoother-than-silk vocals.
Her 1960 hit, “Guess Who I Saw Today” (written by Murray Grand and Elisse Boyd), tells the story of a woman who catches her husband by telling him a story in which he turns out to be the villain. But in her 1968 hit, “Face It Girl, It’s Over” (by Francis Stanton and Angelo Badale), Ms. Wilson sings the sad song of a woman who fails to notice that her lover has lost interest in her. Only later does she reveal that she is the woman scorned.
From 1963 to 1971 Wilson logged eleven songs on the Hot 100, including two Christmas singles.
After making numerous television guest appearances, Wilson eventually got her own series on NBC, The Nancy Wilson Show (1967–1968), which won an Emmy.
In 1964, Wilson won her first Grammy Award for the best rhythm and blues recording for the album How Glad I Am. She was featured as a “grand diva” of jazz in a 1992 edition of Essence. In the same year, she also received the Whitney Young Jr. Award from the Urban League. In 1998, she was a recipient of the Playboy Reader Poll Award for Best jazz vocalist.
In 1986, she was dubbed the Global Entertainer of the Year by the World Conference of Mayors. She received an award from the Martin Luther King Jr…