All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson is an NEA Jazz Master

Nancy Wilson’s musical style is so diverse that it is hard to classify. Over the years her repertoire has included pop style ballads, jazz and blues, show tunes and well known standards. Critics have described her as “a jazz singer,” “a blues singer,” “a pop singer,” and “a cabaret singer.” Still others have referred to her as “a storyteller,” “a professor emeritus of body language,” “a consummate actress,” and “the complete entertainer.” Then who is this song stylist (that’s the descriptive title she prefers) whose voice embodies the nuances of gospel, blues, and jazz? Her colleague and long time friend Joe Williams used to call her “the thrush from Columbus.”

By the age of four, Nancy Wilson knew she wanted to be a singer. Born in Chillicothe, OH, Nancy grew up in Columbus where her father provided early exposure to many vocalists. These included male singers Billy Eckstine and Louis Jordan, and the rhythm and blues of Ruth Brown and LaVerne Baker. Nat King Cole was influential as well. She also heard big band vocalists Jimmy Rushing with Count Basie’s Orchestra, and Lionel Hampton’s Little Jimmy Scott. As a child she took an active part in church music as well as school choirs and dance bands.

Nancy’s professional singing career began at the age of 15. She had her own television show, Skyline Melody, on a local station. Soon after, she began performing in clubs in the Columbus area. After graduating high school, still undecided about a music career, she enrolled in the teacher training program at Central State College. But in 1956, Nancy’s desire outweighed the uncertainty of a vocal career, so she left college to join The Rusty Bryant Band. That same year she met Julian “Cannonball” Adderley when she accompanied Bryant’s band to New York City for a recording session. Adderley, impressed with her talent and determination, took an immediate interest in her career and the two kept in touch.

Read more

Tags

Profile
Album Review
Read more articles

Photos

Albums

Album Today - My Way / Nancy - Naturally by Nancy Wilson

Today - My Way /...

SoulMusic Records
2015

buy
Album Kaleidoscope / I Know I Love Him by Nancy Wilson

Kaleidoscope / I Know...

SoulMusic Records
2013

buy
Album Son Of A Preacher Man / Hurt So Bad by Nancy Wilson

Son Of A Preacher Man...

SoulMusic Records
2013

buy
Album The Sound Of Nancy Wilson / Nancy by Nancy Wilson

The Sound Of Nancy...

SoulMusic Records
2013

buy
Album Keep You Satisfied / Forbidden Lover by Nancy Wilson

Keep You Satisfied /...

SoulMusic Records
2012

buy
Album With Cannonball Adderley & George Shearing by Nancy Wilson

With Cannonball...

Capitol Records
2012

buy

Watch

Similar

Billie Holiday Billie Holiday
voice / vocals
Sarah Vaughan Sarah Vaughan
voice / vocals
Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald
voice / vocals
Dianne Reeves Dianne Reeves
voice / vocals
Lena Horne Lena Horne
voice / vocals
Abbey Lincoln Abbey Lincoln
voice / vocals
Dinah Washington Dinah Washington
voice / vocals
Carmen McRae Carmen McRae
voice / vocals
Tony Bennett Tony Bennett
voice / vocals
Dee Dee Bridgewater Dee Dee Bridgewater
voice / vocals
Etta Jones Etta Jones
voice / vocals
Dakota Staton Dakota Staton
voice / vocals
Eartha Kitt Eartha Kitt
voice / vocals
Peggy Lee Peggy Lee
voice / vocals
Nnenna Freelon Nnenna Freelon
voice / vocals
Ernestine Anderson Ernestine Anderson
voice / vocals

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.