Nancy Wilson, beloved jazz vocalist who preferred to be called a song stylist, died today (December 13, 2018). She was 81. Her son, Kacy Dennis, said she passed peacefully at home after a long illness.

In accordance with her wishes, there will be no funeral service. A Celebration of Life will be held, most likely in February, the month of her birth. When more details become available they will be posted on this web site.

In 2004, Nancy cut back on the number of performances per year, appearing only occasionally and predominantly in concert halls, but National Public Radio listeners continue to hear her hosting repeated broadcasts of her Jazz Profiles series.  She gave her fans her all for more than 60 years, recorded 67+ albums, and finally retired from public life desiring to spend all of her time with her family, especially her grandchildren.

She received more awards and honors than can be listed, including an NAACP Image Award; a 2004 NEA Jazz Master Fellowship award; a 2005 Trumpet Award celebrating African-American achievement a 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP in Chicago; three Grammy Awards: 1965 for Best R&B Performance on her album How Glad I Am on Capitol Records; 2005 Best Jazz Vocal Album titled R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal) and 2007 Best Jazz Vocal Album Turned To Blue CD, both on MCG Jazz; induction into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in 2005; and an honorary doctorate from Juilliard School of Music bestowed in May 2012.

She is survived by her son Kacy Dennis; daughters Sheryl Burton and Samantha Burton; grandchildren Lane, Sol, Shane, Chase, and Savannah; sisters Karen Davis of Lancaster and Brenda Vann of San Diego.

15 thoughts on “R.I.P.

  1. Anthony C Fletcher

    Love and have followed your music all of my life. So happy to have met you and your team in Atlanta in the early ’90’s during the Black Art Expo Concert. So gracious, so classy and so down to earth. Much love, respect and condolences to your family.

  2. Darlene broussatd

    Nancy Wilson was an icon in our community for so many years she Grace the stage she had a very sultry voice I went out a few years ago and bought her greatest hits album which I will be playing tonight in her honor what a wonderful woman I got to see her a few times on television and I know God will welcome her home tonight as she travel from this Earth to a spiritual being

  3. Margaret W.

    I saw Ms. Wilson at the Blue Note in NYC during my undergrad years at NYU. She was magical and I left feeling happy and uplifted. My favorite song, “Guess Who I Saw Today” will be on repeat in honor of you. Rest Well, Queen.

  4. Trina Casey

    Biggest compliment of my life was being compared to Nancy when I sang, one of my favorite singers of all time! Thank you for sharing your beautiful voice and heart with the world! You will forever be missed. Blessings to you and your family.

  5. Dennis L Edwards

    RIP my beloved songstress your music and angelic voice will still be played/heard for many centuries to come. You will be miss, however, your voice and music will keep you living for ever. My Prayers are with your family.

    To the family, remember with Prayer, God will soothe your sorrow. Keep the faith that you all will meet again.

    RIP my sister, Don’t ask my neighbor! Love you my beloved sister NANCY WILSON!!!

  6. Kirk Weber

    I will never forget our moments in this lifetime together! Very grateful to have had you as a friend. YOU were more than a class act! I’ll miss you Nancy, yet we are lucky enough to still have your recordings forever! My memory of you and our talks will last with me in my lifetime! Thank you, you were loved!

  7. Dreama Whitlock

    Rest in Heaven Nancy Wilson..Nancy Wilson songs absolutely gave me life throughout my life. Her sultry voice telling stories of being a woman living and loving.
    So sad to know you’re gone. I am so happy that you left hours on end of your music to listen to and be able to watch your concerts on UTube.
    I so love you and will miss you “my” Fancy Nancy Wilson.

  8. Brenda Lassiter

    I listened to my parent’s Nancy Wilson album “A Touch of Today” from the time I was 6 years old. I still play it today more than 50 years later. Rest In Peace Nancy.

  9. Stan Pierson

    Miss Nancy, a part of my life and memories for nearly 40 years. Thank you to all her family for always sharing her with those of us who admired her talent and soul. Her music will continue to be where I turn when I need inspiration, a good cry or just pure joy.

  10. Isha T.

    Growing up, my home was constantly filled with music, and your voice was among the angels I listened to. I fell in love with music and singing because of you. Rest in Heaven and sing with the angels again, Ms. Wilson.

  11. Mark Rutherford

    Me and my daughter Jazmine love listening to Nancy Wilson songs. Especially Wives and Lovers Jazmine was only 4 years old she would sing that song
    RIP. Nancy

  12. Jean Robinson

    RIP beautiful lady, I attended many of your performances in Chicago, Los Angeles , Monterey. You always were elegant in your costumes and graceful in demeanor. There will never be another voice such as you. God blessed you with a wonderful gift which you shared with the world.

  13. Margaret Adams Grimm

    So sorry to read this. I remember Nancy in high school. We watched her sing at school at West Highschool in Columbus Ohio and I and am sure many other teens at the time couldnt believe what what we were hearing. She sang like a star already on her way. Also remember her singing with Rusty Bryant in Columbus. Rest in peace and thoughts and prayers for her family.

  14. Derric Dickson

    My mother and aunts played Nancy Wilson’s albums constantly. I saw her perform at either Kimball’s or Yoshi’s when I lived in SF in the 90″s. She was so elegantly radiant and sultry. I went by myself and sat at a small table in the middle of the room. I had grown up on LP’s Yesterday’s Love Song’s/Today’s Blues, How Glad I am, A Touch Of Today, Now I’m A Woman, and Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You. Ms. Wilson set the gold standard with her renditions of Guess Who I Saw Today, Satin Doll, Have a Heart, Don’t Misunderstand and Don’t Rain On My Parade. During her performance in S.F., she played with the lyrics of Guess Who I Saw Today. When she sang It occurred to me where I’d parked the car, she melodically inserted, “Thinking of You”. It was her playfully artistic nod to the current Infiniti Q45 commercials which featured her beauty and talent. We all chuckled knowingly. Her honey infused set was exhilaratingly fresh.

    Not only was she a song stylist, possessed a distinctive sense of personal style that I admired. The way she presented herself. Nothing ever looked “trendy” on her. I’ve collected classic cars throughout my adult life and vividly remember the white Rolls Royce she bought from the Queen Elizabeth being featured in Jet magazine.
    When Ms. Lena Horne transitioned I wasn’t surprised that she and Ms. Wilson were friends. Water seeks it’s own level…

    A famous, early 60’s, Time review of her act, at the Coconut Grove, was titled “File Under Female Vocal”. It alludes to Capitol’s printed instructions for music stores on cataloging all of her albums. Ms. Wilson’s life is a testament to intelligence, master class artistry, humanity, and spirituality both on and off the stage. A lot of current black female artists need to educate themselves and emulate her.

    My condolences to her family and friends. May they find comfort in the joy her gift brought to the world knowing that she’s now where “Grass Is Greener, Just b. Interestingly, just like my mother didn’t want a funeral, neither did Ms. Wilson. I chose a celebration of life dinner on her birthday. From what I’ve read it seems her family will celebrate her life around her birthday too.

    Tonight I’m going to create a Nancy-Tini in her honor. I’ve got her albums, honey, and vodka. After a wistful tear or two, her vibrant voice will make me smile knowing heavens gates have opened and God and his angelic choir are rejoicing her arrival.

    Derric Dickson
    Dallas, TX.


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