Nancy Wilson

American jazz singer Nancy Sue Wilson was born on February 20, 1937, in Chillicothe, Ohio career spanned over five decades and died on December 13, 2018.

The American singer career spanned from the mid–1950s until her retirement in the early–2010.

Wilson became popular for her single “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am” and her version of the standard “Guess Who I Saw Today”.

She recorded over 70 albums and won three Grammy Awards for her work.

During her performing career she was named a singer of blues, jazz, R&B, pop, and soul, a “consummate actress”, and “the complete entertainer”, however, Wilson preferred “song stylist”.

Wilson gained many nicknames including “Sweet Nancy”, “The Baby”, “Fancy Miss Nancy” and “The Girl With the Honey-Coated Voice”.

She was the first of six children of Olden Wilson, an iron foundry worker, and Lillian Ryan, a maid.

Her dad would buy records to listen to at home.

At a tender age, she heard recordings from Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole, and Jimmy Scott with Lionel Hampton’s Big Band.

She once said: “The juke joint down on the block had a great jukebox and there I heard Dinah Washington, Ruth Brown, LaVerne Baker, Little Esther”.

She 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.

At age of four, Wilson knew she would eventually become a singer.

She attending Columbus, Ohio’s West High School at 15 years old, where she won a talent contest sponsored by the local ABC television station WTVN.

The prize earned her an appearance on a television show aired twice-a-week, Skyline Melodies, which she later hosted.

Wilson 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.

Not quiet sure of her future as an entertainer, Wilson 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.

Wilson auditioned and won a spot with Rusty Bryant’s Carolyn Club Big Band in 1956.

Wilson went on tour with them throughout Canada and the Midwest from 1956 to 1958.

With the group, She made her first recording under Dot Records.

She got married to her first husband, drummer Kenny Dennis, in 1960.

Their son, Kenneth (Kacy) Dennis Jr., was born in 1963, and by 1970, they divorced.

Wilson married a Presbyterian minister, Reverend Wiley Burton, on May 22, 1973

Wilson gave birth to Samantha Burton in 1975, and the couple adopted Sheryl Burton in 1976.

As a result of her marriage, Wilson abstained from performing in various venues, such as supper clubs.

For the next two decades, Wilson successfully juggled her personal life and her career.

During November 1998, both of her parents died; she calls this year the most difficult of her life.

During August 2006, Wilson was hospitalized for anemia and potassium deficiency and was given I.V. sustenance while undergoing a complete battery of tests.

Wilson was unable to attend the UNCF Evening of Stars Tribute to Aretha Franklin and had to cancel the engagement.

Nonetheless, all of her other engagements were on hold pending doctors’ reports.

In March 2008, she was once again hospitalized for lung complications, recovered, and claimed to be doing well.

During that same year, the husband, Wiley Burton, died after suffering from renal cancer.

Wilson died at her home in Pioneertown, California after a long illness, at 81 years old.


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