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Nancy Wilson (1937–2018), award-winning song stylist

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Songs included "(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am" and "Guess Who I Saw Today"

Nancy Wilson (1937–2018) was a Grammy and Emmy Award-winning singer who sang many styles of music but is most closely associated with jazz. Among her notable recordings are the 1964 hit “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am,” and her debut single, “Guess Who I Saw Today.” Aware of her singing talent from a young age, she transformed her gift for song into a performing and recording career that spanned more than half a century, beginning in the 1950s and extending until her retirement in the 2010s.

She was described as a consummate entertainer. She made frequent television appearances beginning in the 1960s. She won an Emmy for her series “The Nancy Wilson Show” (1974–1975). She also hosted NPR Music’s “Jazz Profiles” documentary series from 1996 through 2005, for which she won a Peabody Award in 2002. She won three Grammys for albums during her career, “How Glad I Am” (1965), “R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal)” (2005), and “Turned to Blue” (2007).

Beyond her singing career she was an activist in the civil rights movement, was a spokeswoman for the Urban League, and promoted AIDS awareness.

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Died: Thursday, December 13, 2018 (Who else died on December 13?)

Details of death: Died at her home in Pioneertown, California, after a long illness at the age of 81


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Song Stylist: Although she was often described as a jazz singer, she preferred the term “song stylist” to better capture the breadth of her repertoire, which included jazz, pop, R&B, soul, and showtunes.

Notable quote: “I do not do runs and—you know. I take a lyric and make it mine. I consider myself an interpreter of the lyric,” she said in a 2010 interview with The San Francisco Chronicle.

What people said about her: “Her repertory is a treatise on variety and taste, spun by a voice of agile grace and knowing jazz inflection and phrasing. Yet heard in person, she poses a problem. Willowy, tawny, perfectly featured and somehow kissed by ice, she seems sometimes too beautiful for the consistently fey interpretation she gives to the lyrics of her songs.” —Time Magazine review from 1964

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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