BLACK HISTORY – FEBRUARY 20, 2019: NANCY WILSON
Born in Chillicothe, Ohio on February 20, 1937, to Olden Wilson and Lillian Ryan, Nancy Sue Wilson began singing in church and by the age of four, she knew she wanted to be a singer. Wilson attended West High School in Columbus, Ohio, graduating at age 17, and Central State University, an HBCU located in Wilberforce, Ohio, for a B.A. degree in Education. She sang with big bands and at nightclubs from 1956-1959. She soon became discovered and signed with Capitol Records in 1960, releasing five albums in just two years. She won her first Grammy in 1964 for the album How Glad I Am.
Wilson was one of the first African American women to appear on national television advertisements for Thunderbird Wine and Campbell’s Soup. Most recently, Wilson’s sultry voice was used in Infiniti car commercials. From 1967 to 1968, Wilson had a self-titled TV series which aired on NBC and won her an Emmy. She also appeared on numerous other television shows and was featured in several movies. In the 1980s, Wilson recorded five live albums for Japanese labels. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990.
In 2007, Wilson released her 70th album, Turned To Blue. She also hosted NPR’s Jazz Profiles from 1996 to 2005, which earned her a George Foster Peabody Award in 2001. In September 2005, Wilson was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. With a career spanning over five decades, she earned three Grammy awards along with numerous accolades. Her final live performance was on September 10, 2011, at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.
A street in her hometown of Chillicothe is named “Nancy Wilson Way.” Wilson was to married Kenny Dennis from 1960 - 1970, having one son, Kenneth Dennis, Jr. She remained to Reverend Wiley Burton from 1973 until his passing in 2008; they had two daughters, Samantha and Sheryl. On December 13, 2018, Wilson passed away at her home in Pioneertown, California at the age of 81.
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