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Nancy Wilson – In Memoriam

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by Andrew Patton on December 18, 2018

Sadly, the Columbus jazz scene and the world lost a bright talent when vocalist Nancy Wilson passed away at her home in Pioneertown, California on December 13th at the age of 81 (NPR obituary). A native of Chillicothe, Wilson moved to Columbus as a child and graduated from West High School as she was already attracting attention for her talent. She auditioned and won a spot with Columbus saxophonist Rusty Bryant’s Carolyn Club Big Band in 1956. Soon thereafter she met saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and moved to New York City, and the success of her debut single, “Guess Who I Saw Today,” spurred Capitol Records to release five of her albums. She continued to record successful albums and also became a TV star, including hosting her own Emmy Award-winning show, as well as a celebrated radio host. Wilson retired from performing after a final show in Athens, Ohio in 2011, and was inducted into the Lincoln Theatre Walk of Fame in 2015. She leaves behind a legacy as a peerless “song stylist,” and has influenced countless performers including Columbus’ own Mary McClendon, who I interviewed about Wilson ahead of a tribute in March 2018. After honoring her by playing her catalog over the weekend, Columbus’ jazz station Jazz 98.5 FM, WSAX-LP will continue to celebrate Wilson’s recordings with an all-day tribute on Wednesday, December 19thtune in here. See below for selected audio and video from one of Columbus’ true legends:

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