Black and white image of Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson, an influential American jazz singer, was known for her unique vocal phrasing and prowess for turning songs into stories. The music diva was among contemporary music’s most stylish and sultry vocalists, who often crossed over into pop and R&B markets. She hosted her own variety show, The Nancy Wilson Show (1967-68), which helped her win an Emmy. She passed away peacefully at 81 at her California home after a long illness and now, the world is mourning the passing of the true legend. You might have been familiar with her greatest hits like (You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am and Guess Who I Saw Today. But, yet there are some facts about her that you might have missed.

#. Dozens of Albums

Like in Love cover

Wilson signed with Capitol Records in 1960 and released her debut album, Like in Love, which includes her greatest hit, Guess Who I Saw Today. Since then, she never slowed down, releasing multiple records each year and had unleashed more than 60 albums and charted singles. She also collaborated with some big names like George Shearing and Cannonball Adderley. Her musical style spans various genres, including jazz, blues, soul, R&B and pop. 

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#. Nicknames

Nancy wearing a black dress

She preferred to be called “song stylist” and was referred to as a “consummate actress” and “the complete entertainer” due to her career in music and acting. In addition to that, she received many sweet nicknames, including “The Girl With the Honey-Coated Voice,” “Fancy Miss Nancy,” “Sweet Nancy” and “The Baby.”

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#. Grammy Nominations

Nancy holding a grammy awards

Wilson has three Grammy wins. She took home her first Grammy for (You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am in 1965. Later, she won her second Grammy for her 2004 album, R.S.V.P (Rare Songs, Very Personal) and third for 2006 album, Turned to Blue. In an interview in 2007, she said that she had been nominations for over 20 times. But, the Grammys official website credits her with only 7 nominations.

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#. Civil Rights Activist

Nancy Wilson singing

She was a major figure involved in the Civil Rights Movement, decades-long movement in the US with the goal of enforcing legal rights for African-Americans. After being inducted into International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, she said, “This award means more to me than anything else I have ever received.”

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#. Long Illness

Headshot image of Nancy Wilson

Wilson was hospitalized due to anemia and potassium deficiency in 2006 and was unable to attend the UNCF Evening of Stars Tribute to Aretha Franklin. Again in 2008, she was hospitalized for lung complications but was later claimed to be doing fine. She had been enduring a long illness before she died on December 13. She is survived by her three children and five grandchildren. There’ll be no funeral service as per her wishes.

Rest in peace, Nancy!


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