She passed away at her home in Pioneertown, Calif. on Thursday after battling an undisclosed illness, said her manager, Devra Hall Levy.
The Ohio-native started her career making R&B music but later started to record jazz music.
Wilson went on to record “Guess Who I Saw Today,” her debut single and “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am,” which earned her a Grammy Award for best R&B recording in 1965 and was her biggest hit, according to CNN. She went on to win two more Grammys in 2005 and 2007.
“The music that I sing today was the pop music of the 1960s,” Wilson told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2010, according to the Associated Press. “I just never considered myself a jazz singer. I do not do runs and — you know. I take a lyric and make it mine. I consider myself an interpreter of the lyric.”
Tributes for Wilson poured in on social media from those who said they were impacted by her music.
“So far ahead…stunning jazz songstress Nancy Wilson showcased Fashion Fair Cosmetics in 1973 Ebony magazine. Nancy’s voice was one of a kind,” said Linda Johnson Rice, Chairman Emeritus of EBONY Media Operations.
“So sad to hear about the passing of the great Nancy Wilson. She was a magical performer. I’m so glad I was able to spend time with her and hear her beautiful voice in person,” singer John Legend wrote.
So sad to hear about the passing of the great Nancy Wilson. She was a magical performer. I'm so glad I was able to spend time with her and hear her beautiful voice in person.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) December 14, 2018
“First Aretha now Nancy Wilson, we’re losing our legends at an alarming rate. I remember when I first got my hands on “Like In Love” and I had to buy another record because I played the first one too much. You took Jazz to another level, RIP,” wrote Twitter user Milaaa.
First Aretha now Nancy Wilson, we’re losing our legends at an alarming rate 😭 I remember when I first got my hands on “Like In Love” and I had to buy another record because I played the first one too much. You took Jazz to another level, RIP 💕 #NancyWilson pic.twitter.com/H681cAoQf8
— Milaaa (@princess708) December 14, 2018
Wilson retired from touring in 2011 and is survived by son Kacy Dennis; daughters Samantha Burton and Sheryl Burton; sisters Karen Davis and Brenda Vann and five grandchildren, writes the AP.
Below are some pictures of Wilson from the Johnson Publishing archives.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.