She was born in 1937 on the 20th February in Chillicothe, Ohio, USA. Like Nina Simone, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan before her, Nancy started her singing career in the choir of her local church. At 15 she won the dreamlike prize of her own twice-weekly television show, Skyline Melodies, in a talent show and began to make a name for herself as a singer on the Jazz circuit.
One of her first fans and supporters was Cannonball Adderley, who eventually led her to her lifetime manager John Levy and a career with Capitol Records. It was also on a collaboration with him that Nancy first made it big and became a household name throughout America. Throughout the early 1960's her career went from strength to strength and she became Capitol's highest selling female artist in 1964. She even hosted her own variety show whch received an Emmy award in 1967.
She had a long and successful career, but by 1984 jazz was no longer as mainstream and successful as it had been, and Nancy switched to Columbia Records in an attempt to revitalise her career. She was, however, unable to compete with the more pop and rock orientated music world, at least as far as record sales were concerned.
In 1991 she received her own star on Broadway, a sure sign of true stardom. Nancy WIlson has continued to record, having produced over sixty albums throughout her life, and can now be heard presenting Jazz Profiles on NPR radio.
Her Discography is huge and can be viewed at the first site below, but the best way to get into her music and style is Outta Sight!, an album released by Blue Note Records in 1998 and available from all good online record shops. She's not set in the traditional jazz diva mold, but incorporates elements of funk and country as well, and her version of Son of a Preacher Man is second to none.
For more information on Nancy Wilson see: