Nancy Wilson, Legendary ‘Song Stylist’ and Jazz Icon, Dead at Age 81

Nancy Wilson

Grammy-winning singer Nancy Wilson dies at 81

She officially stopped touring with a show at Ohio University in September 2011, but had been thinking of stepping back for years. "I just never considered myself a jazz singer", Wilson said.

Notable quote: "I do not do runs and-you know. I consider myself an interpreter of the lyric".

She would win two more Grammy Awards, in 2005 and 2007.

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She launched a career as an R&B singer with the 1961 single "Guess Who I Saw Today".

Wilson also appeared in film and television and hosted the "Jazz Profiles" series on NPR. has contacted a representative for Nancy Wilson for comment.

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In addition to entertainment, Wilson received an NAACP Image Award in 1998 for her active role in the civil rights movement, including the Selma march of 1965.

DeFade and a few other notable Pittsburgh jazz musicians, including drummer Roger Humphries and bassist Dwayne Dolphin, backed Wilson when she sang live on an episode of Oprah Winfrey's TV show. In 2004, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a "Jazz Masters Fellowship" for lifetime achievement.

Nancy Wilson famously referred to herself as a "song stylist", as she refused to be pigeonholed into one specific music category. "Willowy, tawny, perfectly featured and somehow kissed by ice, she seems sometimes too attractive for the consistently fey interpretation she gives to the lyrics of her songs". She had three children.

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GREENE: Wilson's career spanned over five decades. "I hope Ann is doing ok, tough to lose a sister". "I'm trying to retire, people", she said with a laugh before leaving the stage to a standing ovation. Her first record deal was with the Dot label, but upon signing with Capitol, Wilson's early-'60s sales were said to be behind only the Beatles and ahead of Frank SInatra's. At the time, she wished "to spend all of her time with her family, especially her grandchildren", according to a quote on her website. However, a celebration of her life will likely will held in February.

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