A Tribute to Nancy Wilson: 1937-2018

Nancy Wilson was born in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Wilson knew at an early age that she wanted to be a singer. As a youth, Nancy was so determined that her father helped her navigate the musical scene and gain experience by singing with Raleigh Randolph’s Sultans of Swing and various other professionals. By age 15, she was earning extra money singing in the clubs on Mt. Vernon Avenue. Officially. she began her professional career at 16, after she won a contest to host her own weekly television show. “Skyline Melodies,” on Columbus’ WTVN-TV. In 1956. Rusty Bryant invited a young Nancy Wilson to join his band. With Bryant, Wilson recorded her first song on the Dot label in 1956. Her career went national when she appeared as a stand-in for another singer at a New York club and was heard by John Levy (Julian “Cannonball“ Adderly’s agent) who remained her manager throughout her career. She toured extensively, appearing with everyone from Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughn to Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker. She even hosted her own Emmy Award-winning variety series for NBC, The Nancy Wilson Show. In the 1990’s. Wilson hosted the Jazz Profiles series on National Public Radio. Nancy Wilson was a “bright light” on the eastside corridor.

Learn more about other great legacies at The King Arts Complex.