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Music

Nancy Wilson’s sublime artistry rippled well beyond jazz and torch songs

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Beyond jazz and R&B, Nancy Wilson, pictured in 2007, also had a special touch with pop songs.
(Rick Maiman / Associated Press)

Nancy Wilson sealed her fate in jazz and R&B and the Great American Songbook, as “a song stylist with an unmistakable stamp of icy hauteur,” as the writer James Gavin perfectly put it in a Facebook post memorializing her.

Wilson died Thursday at 81 at her home in Pioneertown, Calif., after a long illness.

As celebrated as Wilson was, her forays into pop music beginning in the mid-1960s are arguably underappreciated. She herself shrugged off easy labels for the kind of music she performed in a Grammy-winning career that spanned five decades.

“I just never considered myself a jazz singer. I take a lyric and make it mine. I consider myself an interpreter of the lyric,” she once told the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Here are six songs that showcase Wilson’s sublime mastery, no matter the genre.

“Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”

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“Ode to Billie Joe”

“And I Love Him”

“Son of a Preacher Man”

“Mr. Bojangles”

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james.reed@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter @jreedwrites.


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