Song stylist and humanitarian, Nancy Wilson, has been selected to receive the prestigious 2010 Pioneer of African American Achievement Award by the Brotherhood Crusade. The fete will be held on Friday, November 5, 2010 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, 9876 Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills at 7:00pm.
Ms. Wilson’s self proclaimed title of “song stylist” aptly fits as her diverse musical repertoire includes pop style ballads, jazz and blues, show tunes and classic standards.
Critics have described her as everything from a jazz singer, to a storyteller and complete entertainer. After years at Capitol Records, her sales were second only to the Beatles, and have even surpassed Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee and the Beach Boys.
Ms. Wilson knew she wanted to sing at age four, but her professional singing career began at the age of 15, when she had her own television show and began performing in clubs in the Columbus, Ohio area. She left college in 1956 and met saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. Impressed with her talent and determination, Adderley took an immediate interest in her career and the two kept in touch. When she moved to New York City in 1959, she gave herself six months to attain her goals.
She wanted Adderley’s manager, John Levy, to represent her, and she chose Capitol Records as her desired label.
She called Levy to see a show that she’d landed within four weeks of arriving in New York. Levy was so impressed with her performance; he called her the next day to set up a demo. Nancy recalls, “Ray Bryant and I went in and recorded “Guess Who I Saw Today,” “Sometimes I’m Happy,” and two other songs. We sent them to Capitol and within five days the phone rang. Within six weeks I had all the things I wanted.”
The debut single, “Guess Who I Saw Today,” was so successful that between April of 1960 and July of 1962 Capitol Records released five Nancy Wilson albums. In 1963 “Tell Me The Truth” became her first truly major hit, leading up to her performance at the Coconut Grove in 1964 – the turning pointing of her career. From there she performed on television as well as hosted her own television show which won an Emmy in 1975. She also took on acting roles on popular TV shows throughout the years and hosted NPR’s Jazz Profiles series in 1995.
Among her many awards and honors are three Grammys, two NAACP Image Awards, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, streets and days dedicated in her name, honorary doctorate degrees, the UNCF Trumpet Award celebrating African- American Achievement, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP in Chicago, and Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Award.
Says Charisse Bremond Weaver, president and CEO of the Brotherhood Crusade, “We are so excited and honored that Nancy Wilson has been selected the recipient of the Pioneer of African American Achievement Award this year. In my mind, her association with the Brotherhood Crusade has come full circle. In 1971, she chaired our fundraising campaign and concert which laid the foundation for this organization becoming one of the most influential philanthropic organizations today. Her legacy of music combined with her humanitarian efforts from the Civil Rights Movement through her work to assist inner city youth through the Nancy Wilson Foundation raises consciousness and awareness to empower and enhance the lives of those in underserved communities. This makes her the fitting honoree for this year’s award.”
Some of the past recipients of the Pioneer of African American Achievement Award include Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Soledad O’Brien, Berry Gordy, Cathy Hughes, Sandra Evers-Manley, Spike Lee, Rosa Parks, Don King, Tavis Smiley, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Muhammad Ali.
For more information on the Brotherhood Crusade or to purchase tickets, please call 323.846.1649 or visit www.brotherhoodcrusade.org
Sponsorships are available and the event is open to the public.
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