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Nancy Wilson

About Nancy Wilson

Nancy Sue Wilson (February 20, 1937 – December 13, 2018) was an American singer whose career spanned over five decades, from the mid–1950s until her retirement in the early–2010s. She was notable for her single (You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am and her version of the standard Guess Who I Saw Today.

Wilson recorded more than 70 albums and won three Grammy Awards for her work. 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”.

Nancy Sue Wilson was born on February 20, 1937 in Chillicothe, Ohio, the first of six children of Olden Wilson, an iron foundry worker, and Lillian Ryan, a maid.
Wilson’s father would buy records to listen to at home. At an early age Wilson heard recordings from Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole, and Jimmy Scott with Lionel Hampton’s Big Band.
Wilson says: “The juke joint down on the block had a great jukebox and there I heard Dinah Washington, Ruth Brown, LaVerne Baker, Little Esther”. Wilson became aware of her talent while singing in church choirs, imitating singers as a young child, and performing in her grandmother’s house during summer visits.
By the age of four, she knew she would eventually become a singer.

At the age of 15, now attending Columbus, Ohio’s West High School, Wilson won a talent contest sponsored by the local ABC television station WTVN. The prize was an appearance on a twice-a-week television show, Skyline Melodies, which she later hosted. She also worked clubs on the east side and north side of Columbus, Ohio, from the age of 15 until she graduated from West High School at age 17. Unsure of her future as an entertainer, she entered college to pursue teaching. She spent one year at Ohio’s Central State College (now Central State University) before dropping out and following her original ambitions. She auditioned and won a spot with Rusty Bryant’s Carolyn Club Big Band in 1956.
She toured with them throughout Canada and the Midwest in 1956 to 1958.
While in this group, Wilson made her first recording under Dot Records.

On December 13, 2018, Wilson died at her home in Pioneertown, California, after a long illness. She was 81 years old.