Nancy Wilson blurs the line between jazz singer and pop singer, preferring to be called a "song stylist." Born in Ohio in 1937, she is younger than Elvis, Little Richard and Esther Phillips, and only a year older than Etta James and Tina Turner. Yet, stylistically speaking, she is worlds away from these rhythm-rocking contemporaries. Nancy is more like an earlier generation of vocalists such as Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan, or Billy Eckstine.
At the age of 15, and after appearing at a talent show in Columbus, Ohio, Nancy was given her own twice-a-week television show, Skyline Melodies. Six months later Capital Records signed her.
An early single, 1961's Guess Who I Saw Today, a marvel of sophistication given the teen tenor of the times, became a staple on jazz radio and in black juke box locations throughout urban America. Am album in 1962, Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley, further raised her jazz profile and provided her with a second juke box hit, an edited-for-45 version of Buddy Johnson's Save Your Love For Me. She also paid tribute to her idol, Little Jimmy Scott, with a much-loved version of When Did You Leave Heaven.
The two albums which made Nancy Wilson a household name were Broadway My Way and Hollywood My Way, current and old tunes from the Great White Way and Tinseltown.
After countless television guest appearances, NBC gave Nancy her own network series, The Nancy Wilson Show, for which she won an Emmy Ward for the 1967-68 season. She also performed on shows like The Andy Williams Show, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Flip Wilson Show.
After years with Capitol Records, during many of which she was second in sales only to the Beatles, surpassing even Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee, the business change and Nancy felt a new label might bring about a fresh start.
One of the more interesting albums from Nancy's later period came about in 1991, when singer Barry Manilow was given a sheath full of lyrics written by the late Johnny Mrcer which the great songwriter had never put to music. Manilow added melodies and chose Nancy to sing the resultant songs.
In August 2004, Nancy celebrated 50 years of being in the music business with a gorgeous new disc, R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal). The recording is a lovely showcase for Nancy's stirring lyricism as it features her with a stellar cast, including saxophonist Phil Woods, and pianist George Shearing.