Nancy Wilson (born February 20, 1937) is an American singer with more than 70 albums, and three Grammy Awards. She has been labeled a singer of blues, jazz, cabaret and pop; a "consummate actress"; and "the complete entertainer." The title she prefers, however, is song stylist. She has received many nicknames including "Sweet Nancy", "The Baby", "Fancy Miss Nancy" and "The Girl With the Honey-Coated Voice".
Diva Nancy Wilson was among contemporary music's most stylish and sultry vocalists; while often crossing over into the pop and R&B markets -- and even hosting her own television variety program -- she remained best known as a jazz performer, renowned for her work alongside figures including Cannonball Adderley and George Shearing.
Nancy Wilson was born on February 20, 1937 in Chillicothe, Ohio to Olden Wilson, an iron foundry worker, and Lillian Ryan. Wilson attended Burnside Heights Elementary School and developed her singing skills by participating in church choirs. She attended West High School in Columbus, Ohio where she won a talent contest and was rewarded with a role as a host for a local television show. She then went on to attend Ohio's Central State University where she pursued her B.A. degree in education.
In 1956, Wilson auditioned and won a spot as a vocalist for Rusty Bryant's Carolyn Club Band. Afterwards, she moved to New York where she began working as a secretary at the New York Institute of Technology. While in New York, Wilson became friends with jazz saxophonist "Cannonball" Adderley who introduced her to her manager John Levy. She was recording regularly by the late '50s, eventually signing to Capitol and issuing LPs including 1959's Like in Love and Nancy Wilson with Billy May's Orchestra. Her dates with Shearing, including 1960's The Swingin's Mutual, solidified her standing as a talent on the rise, and her subsequent work with Adderley -- arguably her finest recordings -- further cemented her growing fame and reputation.
After touring and performing at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles, California and the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, Wilson's album Tell Me The Truth was released, and in 1964 she won a Grammy Award for her album How Glad I Am.
In the years to follow, however, Wilson often moved away from jazz, much to the chagrin of purists; she made numerous albums, many of them properly categorized as pop and R&B outings, and toured extensively, appearing with everyone from Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughan to Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker. She even hosted her own Emmy-winning variety series for NBC, The Nancy Wilson Show, and was a frequent guest performer on other programs; hits of the period included "Tell Me the Truth," "How Glad I Am," "Peace of Mind," and "Now, I'm a Woman."
In the early 2000s, Wilson returned to jazz, recording two albums with Ramsey Lewis for Narada (2002's Meant to Be and 2003's Simple Pleasures).
Wilson married her first husband, drummer Kenny Dennis, in 1960. In 1963, their son, Kenneth (Kacy) Dennis, Jr., was born, and by 1970, they divorced. On May 22, 1973, she married Presbyterian minister Reverend Wiley Burton. She gave birth to Samantha Burton in 1975, and the couple lovingly adopted Sheryl Burton in 1976. As a result of her marriage, she abstained from performing in various venues, such as supper clubs. In this decade, she focused on her family, relocating to Pioneertown, California, to raise her children in a rural setting.
For the following two decades, she successfully juggled her personal life and her career. In November 1998, both of her parents died: she calls this year the most difficult of her life. In August 2006, Wilson was hospitalized with anemia and potassium deficiency, and was on I.V. sustenance while undergoing a complete battery of tests. She was unable to attend the UNCF Evening of Stars Tribute to Aretha Franklin and had to cancel an engagement. All of her other engagements were on hold, pending doctors’ reports for that month. In March 2008, she was hospitalized for a collapsed lung, recovered and claimed to be doing well. In the same year, her husband, Wiley Burton, died after suffering from renal cancer.
(Info edited mainly from Wikipedia & All Music Guide)