PIONEERTOWN, Calif. (CelebrityAccess) Nancy Wilson, 81, award-winning jazz, R&B and gospel singer, died at her home in Pioneertown, Calif., near Joshua Tree Dec. 13.
Wilson’s torch-song stylings made her a favorite for five decades; her passing was after a long illness. She retired from touring in 2011 but continued to have a strong following after her long career.
Wilson released eight albums that reached the Top 20 on Billboard’s pop charts in the 1960s with songs like “Guess Who I Saw Today” and the hit “(You Don’t Know) HOw Glad I Am.” That song got her a Grammy in 1965 for best R&B performance. She won two Grammy awards for best jazz vocal album, one for RSVP (RARE Songs, Very Personal in 2005 and one for Turned to Blue in 2007.
The National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a “Jazz Masters Fellowship” for lifetime achievement in 2004.
Wilson began her career singing in church and, while in high school, she won a talent contest sponsored by a local TV station and was given her own program, which led to a career touring with Rusty Bryant’s Carolyn Club Big Band. She had a strong television career with appearances on shows like “Hawaii Five-O” and “Police Story.” She spent years hosting NPR’s “Jazz Profiles” series.