Grammy-winning singer and Chillicothe native Nancy Wilson, has died after a long illness at her home in Pioneertown, California. She was 81.
Wilson covered everything from jazz standards to "Little Green Apples" and released eight albums in the 1960's that reached the top 20 on Billboard's pop charts. She was best known for such songs as her breakthrough "Guess Who I Saw Today" and the 1964 hit "(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am".
Wilson's "How Glad I Am" brought her a Grammy in 1965 for best R&B performance, and she later won Grammys for best jazz vocal album in 2005 for the intimate "R.S.V.P (Rare Songs, Very Personal)" and in 2007 for "Turned to Blue," a showcase for the relaxed, confident swing she mastered later in life. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a "Jazz Masters Fellowship" in 2004 for lifetime achievement.
Wilson also had a busy career on television, film and radio, her credits including "Hawaii Five-O," ''Police Story," the Robert Townshend spoof "Meteor Man" and years hosting NPR's "Jazz Profiles" series. Active in the civil rights movement, including the Selma march of 1965, she received an NAACP Image Award in 1998.
Wilson was married twice — to drummer Kenny Dennis, whom she divorced in 1970; and to Wiley Burton, who died in 2008. She had three children.
Born in Chillicothe, Ohio, the eldest of six children of an iron foundry worker and a maid, Wilson sang in church as a girl and by age 4 had decided on her profession. She was in high school when she won a talent contest sponsored by a local TV station and was given her own program. After briefly attending Central State College, she toured Ohio with the Rusty Bryant's Carolyn Club Big Band and met jazz artists who encouraged her to move to New York.