Nancy Wilson, the Grammy-winning “song stylist” and torch singer whose polished pop-jazz vocals made her a platinum artist died last Thursday after a long illness at her home in Pioneertown, California. She was 81.
Wilson, who retired from touring in 2011 was influenced by Dinah Washington, Nat “King” Cole and other stars. Wilson covered everything from jazz standards to “Little Green Apples” and in the 1960s alone released eight albums that reached the top 20 on Billboard’s pop charts.
Elegant and un- derstated, Nancy was best known for songs such as her breakthrough “Guess Who I Saw Today” and the 1964 hit “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am,” which drew upon Broadway, pop and jazz.
Wilson did not want to be identified with a single category, especially jazz, and referred to herself as a “song stylist.”
“The music that I sing today was the pop music of the 1960s,” she told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2010. “I just never considered myself a jazz singer. I do not do runs and – you know. I take a lyric and make it mine. I consider myself an interpreter of the lyric.”
Active in the civirights movement, including the Selma march of 1965, she received an NAACP Image Award in 1998. Wilson was married twice and had three children.