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Legendary Vocalist Nancy Wilson Dies After Lengthy Illness

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And this morning we are remembering the singer Nancy Wilson who has died at the age of 81 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WISH YOU LOVE")

NANCY WILSON: (Singing) I wish you bluebirds in the spring to give your heart...

GREENE: Wilson's career spanned over five decades. And in that time, she recorded more than 60 albums and won three Grammys.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Her music career kicked off after the saxophone player Cannonball Adderley encouraged her to move to New York City. She did. And soon after, she had a regular gig at a jazz club called the Blue Morocco. Wilson spoke about her craft with NPR in 1980.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

WILSON: I've always had a good feeling about singing. I've enjoyed singing because it's a gift. And I think you feel differently about your work when it is a gift.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OH! LOOK AT ME NOW")

WILSON: (Singing) I'm not the girl...

GREENE: Now, Nancy Wilson also had a career as an actress, also an activist and also a public radio host. She hosted NPR's jazz profiles from 1996 to 2005, but she always came back to singing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

WILSON: I'm a standup singer who sings good material and who does great ballads, and that's what they want to hear.

GREENE: Nancy Wilson died at her home here in Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.