Jazz Profiles from NPR
Host Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson  

In 2002, Emmy and Grammy Award winner Nancy Wilson marks 50 years as an entertainer. Nancy was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, and as a young girl began singing in church choirs. She inherited her father's love for jazz, listening to his collection of records by Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole, LaVern Baker, Dinah Washington and Jimmy Scott.

During high school, Nancy performed on the Columbus club circuit and she eventually left college to sing professionally. After tenor sax player and bandleader Cannonball Adderley met Nancy when she sat in with his group at a Columbus gig, he took her under his wing, finding her a manager and a deal with Capitol Records in 1959. She went on to record more than 50 albums for the label.

Nancy has performed with a wide range of stellar entertainers from Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, Cannonball Adderley and Louis Jordan to LaVerne Baker, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Ruth Brown. Among her hits are "Tell Me The Truth," "How Glad I Am," "Peace Of Mind," "Now, I'm A Woman," and what may be her most popular track, "Guess Who I Saw Today."

While always true to her jazz roots, Nancy's style has broadened from jazz to include R&B and pop -- her best-selling album, reaching #4 on the Billboard pop chart, was 1964's Yesterday's Love Songs/Today's Blues (Capitol).

In addition to her recording career, Nancy has worked in radio and television, acting in theatrical productions and hosting music programs, including her Emmy Award-winning NBC-TV variety series, "The Nancy Wilson Show." Fans may recognize her distinctive voice from national television commercials for Infinity automobiles. Nancy is especially proud of her role as a spokesperson for several humanitarian causes.