The stylist of songs

In the summer of 1964, the peak of the British Invasion, there was still a place on the American charts for non-white non-English non-boys, and into that place, as smoothly as could be, slid Nancy Wilson, who made it to #11 with “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am.” It was a jazzier piece than its florid arrangement might have let you think; “I wish I were an artist,” she sings, and you think, “Oh, honey, you don’t have to worry about that.”

Nancy Wilson wire-service photo

She pulled off this not-quite-nerd-girl look quite effectively, leaving Capitol, her record label of the day, with the task of trying to glam her up without overdoing it. Sometimes they even succeeded:

Cover art, Nancy Wilson Today My Way

Cover art, Nancy Wilson Nancy Naturally

At the end of the Seventies, she cut an album called Life, Love and Harmony, which yielded “Sunshine,” an excursion into funk that today is highly prized in the Northern Soul scene in, um, England.

Still, her roots are in jazzy pop and/or poppy jazz, as we hear as she runs through “How Glad I Am” at Newport in 1987:

Still an artist, of course. She retired from live performance in 2011; today she turns seventy-nine.

4 comments

  1. Roger Green »

    21 February 2016 · 6:09 am

    So she’s not the one in Heart? Actually, I remember her more from the inner sleeves of my Beatles album than the one or two albums my mom had.

  2. ETat »

    21 February 2016 · 9:22 am

    On the 1st photo she looks like Whitney Houston

  3. McGehee »

    21 February 2016 · 10:59 am

    Happy birthday Nancy.

  4. CGHill »

    21 February 2016 · 11:44 am

    I snagged “Face It Girl, It’s Over” from one of those occasional Capitol sampler LPs.

RSS feed for comments on this post