Nancy Wilson doesn't play clubs, she plays to win
SFBG Yes, the long notes. Are there others besides Dinah Washington and Jimmy Scott you'd name?
NW Lena Horne.
SFBG What about instrumentalists?
NW I don't know that any instrumentalists have influenced my vocal style. I don't know that anyone has influenced my vocal style. I don't recall wanting to be like or sound like anybody. It's just been there.
SFBG That is completely true of you. It's common for people to talk about a singer sounding like an instrument, but you've always brought a sense of drama.
NW I'm a lyric person. I'm not interested in vocalizing. I want to get the story across.
SFBG It seems now that the art of being an entertainer as well as a great singer is being lost. You bring that.
NW Yes. Hopefully it will come back, and there will be places for people to learn and hone their craft. It's out there, you just have to hunt for it, whereas what I sing today was the pop music back in the day.
SFBG Lena Horne, whom you mentioned earlier, is an example of someone who could sing but also entertain.
SFBG One of my favorite of your albums is I Know I Love Him (Capitol, 1973). That one has "Don't Misunderstand," by Gordon Parks.
NW I'm the godmother to one of his children. I love Gordon.
SFBG Did he write a lot of music?
NW No. I don't know where that one came from. But it's a goodie.
SFBG Do you enjoy playing in the Bay Area?
NW I love Yoshi's. I love that club.
SFBG It's a nice size.
NW It's the perfect size. If you're going to choose a place to hang out and have some fun with a guy, that's the place to do it.
SFBG I'm looking forward to seeing and hearing you there again.
NW There are certain songs I'll have to sing — "I Can't Make You Love Me" and "Guess Who [I Saw Today]?" Certain songs, you've just got to do them.
SFBG I don't think people would let you off stage until you've done "Guess Who [I Saw Today]?" [Laughs] Songs like that one and "Face It Girl, It's Over" have a gay appeal. Have you always had a strong gay following?
NW I would assume so. [Laughs]
SFBG Going to see you, one of the best things is the audience — they're usually a great group of people who seem happy to be together.
NW I've been blessed, I've been fortunate.
SFBG Thank you. It's an honor to talk with you after appreciating your music for so long.
NW I'm glad you called. It was enjoyable just to talk with someone who knows the body of work and appreciates it.
Thurs/18–Sat/20, 8 and 10 p.m., $50
510 Embarcadero West, Oakl.
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