Nancy Wilson, Grammy winning ‘How Glad I Am’ singer, dies at 81

Nancy Wilson, a genre-spanning, Grammy-winning singer whose career spanned more than 50 years, died Thursday at age 81. Her longtime manager made the news public.

Born in 1937, Wilson grew up in Ohio and began her music career shortly after high school in 1956, working for Rusty Bryant’s Carolyn Club Big Band. Moving to New York City in 1959 on the advice of Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, she began playing clubs while supporting herself as a secretary, and was signed to Capitol Records the next year.

Though she started out in Jazz, she performed in multiple genres including R&B, Broadway, and pop throughout her long career and resisted categorization, preferring instead to call herself a “song stylist.” She became famous in 1962 through a collaboration with Adderley, an album called “Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley” that produced the hit single “Save Your Love For Me”.

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Nancy Wilson through her career
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Nancy Wilson through her career
Nancy Wilson, U.S. jazz singer, in concert, singing into a microphone, circa 1967. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)
Nancy Wilson, U.S. jazz singer, in concert, singing into a microphone, circa 1967.(Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)
Nancy Wilson, U.S. jazz singer, in concert, singing into a microphone, circa 1970. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images)
Nancy Wilson, U.S. jazz singer, in concert, singing into a microphone, circa 1970. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - MAY 1994: Singer Nancy Wilson poses for photos at Coconuts Records in Chicago, Illinois in MAY 1994. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
MET LIFE PRESENTS THE APOLLO THEATRE HALL OF FAME -- Pictured: Jazz singer Nancy Wilson -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
MET LIFE PRESENTS THE APOLLO THEATRE HALL OF FAME -- Pictured: Jazz singer Nancy Wilson -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
American jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson performs at Jazz at Lincoln Center's 'Nancy Wilson With Strings: Celebrating Four Decades of Music' concert in Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, New York, New York, January 13, 2003. (Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)
American jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson performs at Jazz at Lincoln Center's 'Nancy Wilson With Strings: Celebrating Four Decades of Music' concert in Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, New York, New York, January 13, 2003. (Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)
American jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson performs at Jazz at Lincoln Center's 'Nancy Wilson With Strings: Celebrating Four Decades of Music' concert in Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, New York, New York, January 13, 2003. (Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)
American jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson performs at Jazz at Lincoln Center's 'Nancy Wilson With Strings: Celebrating Four Decades of Music' concert in Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, New York, New York, January 13, 2003. (Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)
Nancy Wilson, winner of Best Jazz Vocal Album for 'R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal)' (Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage for The Recording Academy (View ONLY))
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 3: Producer Barry Gordy and singer Nancy Wilson attend the Recording Academy Grammy Tribute to Jazz at the Music Box at Henry Fonda Theatre on February 3, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 10: Jazz singer Nancy Wilson sports a pin fashioned after the Ella Fitzgerald stamp being introduce in New York, January 10, 2007. (Photo by Linda Netus-Bell/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 12: Singer Nancy Wilson performs live onstage at the 17th Annual NEA Jazz Masters awards and concert January 12, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
Nancy Wilson, winner Best Jazz Vocal for 'Turn to Blue' (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Nancy Wilson, nominee Best Jazz Vocal Album for 'Turned to Blue' (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Musician Sting and singer Nancy Wilson backstage at The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and The Recording Academy Los Angeles chapter honoring Herbie Hancock all star tribute concert at the Kodak Theatre on October 28, 2007 in Hollywood, California.**EXCLUSIVE** ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)
Singer Nancy Wilson Preforms At The 51St Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey, California . (Photo By: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
Singer Nancy Wilson Preforms At The 51St Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey, California . (Photo By: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
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In 1964 and 1965, Wilson had four albums make Billboard’s top ten, a run that notably included her most successful hit, “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am,” which peaked at #11 and won Wilson her first Grammy award for best rhythm and blues recording.

Wilson made numerous television appearances throughout her career, and hosted her own series, The Nancy Wilson Show in 1967 and 1968. Other television appearances include “I Spy,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “The Sammy Davis Jr. Show,” “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” “The Cosby Show,” “The Carol Burnett Show,” and more recently, “Moesha,” and “The Parkers.” She also appeared in Robert Townsend’s 1993 film “The Meteor Man” as well as the film “The Big Score.”

Wilson received numerous awards during her career, including three Grammys, an Emmy for her eponymous NBC series, the NAACP Image Award – Hall of Fame Award in 1998, induction into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame, and induction into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

Wilson retired in 2011 and according to her her manager and publicist Devra Hall, died after a long illness in her California home.

She was married twice, and had three children. She’s survived by her son, two daughters, two sisters and five grandchildren. In a statement, her family said there would be no funeral service, but a celebration of her life would be held in February.

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Read original story Nancy Wilson, Grammy Winning ‘How Glad I Am’ Singer, Dies at 81 At TheWrap

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