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Iconic Jazz Singer Nancy Wilson Dead at 81

Iconic Jazz Singer Nancy Wilson Dead at 81
Nancy Wilson appears on the cover of the May 1966 is of EBONY/Johnson Publishing

Legendary jazz singer Nancy Wilson, who called herself a “song stylist,” had died, her manager confirmed with CNN. She was 81.

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.

Nancy Wilson, Ebony

Nancy Wilson on the May 1966 issue of EBONY with her then-husband Kenny Dennis and son, Kacy/Johnson Publishing

“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.

“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.

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.

Iconic Jazz Singer Nancy Wilson Dead at 81

Nancy Wilson performs at P.U.S.H. Expo, held in Chicago in 1972. (Vaughn Patterson/Ebony Collection) : Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Iconic Jazz Singer Nancy Wilson Dead at 81

Nancy Wilson smiles for a photo taken in 1983. (James Mitchell/Ebony Collection) : Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

 

 

Iconic Jazz Singer Nancy Wilson Dead at 81

Nancy Wilson appears in this undated studio photo. (Vandell Cobb/Ebony Collection)
Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Iconic Jazz Singer Nancy Wilson Dead at 81

Nancy Wilson at the microphone, delivers her smooth and sultry vocals in this undated photo. (Theodore Williams/Ebony Collection) Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

 

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