From “Huckabee” writer and our resident pop culture guru, Pat Reeder, who is currently sharing bizarre celebrity Christmas records at http://facebook.com/hollywoodhifibook )
We’re sad to report that one of the 20th century’s finest musical artists, platinum-selling Grammy winner Nancy Wilson, has died at 81 after a long illness that forced her to retire from touring in 2011.
Nancy Wilson was usually classified as a jazz or torch singer, but she defied categories, singing everything from Gershwin to Stevie Wonder. She said she thought of herself as a “song stylist” who interpreted each lyric individually to tell the story of that song. During the 1960s, she released eight albums that made it to the Billboard top 20, in an era when rock had taken over and banished most elegant, traditional jazz-style vocalists to Vegas.
She was so oblivious to popular music fads that when an interviewer asked her about Eric Clapton’s rock trio Cream, she later said, “It took me years to know what that question was about.” She said she was too busy working in the 1960s, not only in music, but building a successful side career as an actress. She was also awarded the NAACP Image Award in 1998 for her efforts in the civil rights movement.
Nancy Wilson left behind a rich musical legacy that will continue to be enjoyed by future generations, especially with many young hipsters now rediscovering the Great American Songbook stylists of the ‘50s and ‘60s, and haunting thrift shops for turntables and vinyl LPs.
This obituary has much more on the woman known to fans as “The Fancy Miss Nancy” and “The Girl With the Honey-Covered Voice.”