Nancy Wilson: Born 1954

“A good song lives on—it lives and survives fashions,” says Nancy Wilson, co-founder of Heart, whose songs “These Dreams,” “Barracuda,” and “Magic Man” are indeed timeless gems. One of today’s mostaccomplished artists, she helped crack the glass ceiling for women in rock music.

Born in California, the daughter of a United States Marine, her family eventually settled in the suburbs of Seattle. Along with sister Ann, she got hooked on groups of the 1960s, especially the Beatles.

“Once the Beatles emerged, we were like, ‘We’ve got to get guitars and start a band, and sing harmonies better, and write songs!…I was trying to do all that and was sort of self-taught,’” she says with the youthful idealism of a kid wanting to be like John Lennon rather than hold his hand.

Later on, Led Zeppelin hugely inspired the sisters as well. In the early ‘70s, Heart built a reputation as a great live act on the Vancouver club scene doing Zeppelin and other covers. With the siblings front and center, they quickly became a formidable ensemble as well as innovative songwriters. Ann’s powerhouse vocals and Nancy’s virtuosic playing set the stage for a long and dynamic career. Heart sold over thirty-five million records and have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

As a guitarist, Wilson has a style all her own, both aggressive and graceful—the epitome of leather and lace—navigating complex acoustic arrangements and heavy riffing. For texturizing Heart’s catalog over the years, she played an array of acoustic and electric guitars, twelve-string—even a mandolin or two along the way.

Today, Wilson’s a combination of her influences: a child of the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriters, a whole lotta rock, classical, and a touch Seattle grunge.

The legendary guitarist’s first solo album, You and Me (Carry On Music), showcases both her singing and guitar voice. The music varies, traveling from an uplifting version of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” to the symphonic-stringed “Walk Away” and an impressive version of Pearl Jam’s “Daughter.”

Wilson collaborated with a great cast of musicians for her self-produced album, which has eight originals and three covers. Guest artists include Sammy Hagar, Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), and Liv Warfield (Roadcase Royale).
Additionally, Heart band players were on board (Ben Smith, Dan Walker, Ryan Waters, and Andy Stoller), among other musicians such as bassist Tony Levin. For mixing the album, Wilson brought in Tim Palmer (David Bowie, Robert Plant, Pearl Jam) and Matthew Sabin (Heart and Roadcase Royale, among many).

In the guitar department, Wilson relied on her trusted ‘63 blue Telecaster and her go-to Martin acoustic (Martin HD-35 Nancy Wilson Dreadnought Signature Edition), which she used on “4 Edward”—a stirring instrumental tribute to Eddie Van Halen.

A guitar devotee of the first order, she also has two signatures via the Gibson Brands: the Gibson Nancy Wilson Nighthawk Standard and, newly released, The Epiphone Nancy Wilson Signature Fanatic. The new guitar’s a stunner with a Fireburst gloss finish and a sweet, curved cutaway. Wilson says it’s big on tone and playability. Indeed, with ProBucker™ humbuckers, a 5-way pickup selector, and rounded “C” profile neck.

Working from home is working out for the guitarist. With her solo album, receiving a She Rocks Legend Award, and music scoring on the horizon, Wilson’s still the reigning queen of guitar.

Excerpt from interview “Nancy Wilson on her debut solo album, Epiphone Signature Fanatic guitar, Eddie Van Halen tribute song, classic Heart, and that “Crazy on You” intro” by Caroline Paone as seen on Guitar Girl Magazine

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