BMI Foundation Remembers Influential Jazz Artist Nancy Wilson

Published: 01.08.2019

The BMI Foundation mourns the loss of celebrated jazz vocalist and actress Nancy Wilson who passed away on December 13, 2018 at her home in Pioneertown, CA. She was 81. Wilson was the face of the BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship, an award to a promising young jazz composer and performer given annually at the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters ceremony; Wilson was honored with the Jazz Master Fellowship in 2004.

Wilson was a three-time Grammy winner with a career that spanned nearly six decades and produced more than 70 albums. She recorded songs written by fellow musicians such as Stevie Wonder and the Beatles, and toured with Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan and Ruth Brown. As an actress, Wilson appeared on numerous television shows including Room 222, Hawaii Five-O, The Sammy Davis Jr. Show, The Sinbad Show, The Cosby Show, The Andy Williams Show, The Carol Burnett Show, Soul Food and New York Undercover. She went on to host her own Emmy-winning variety show called The Nancy Wilson Show – one of the few African-Americans in her day to do so.

Wilson was also a civil rights advocate who participated in numerous protests, including the Selma to Montgomery march. For her advocacy work, she was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. She also received an award from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and an NAACP Hall of Fame Image Award.

As a trailblazing artist whose sound blended jazz, soul and pop, she will be greatly missed by music lovers and fans worldwide. Wilson is survived by her three children, Kacy Dennis, Sheryl Burton and Samantha Burton; two sisters, Karen Davis and Brenda Vann; and five grandchildren.