Jazz singer Nancy Wilson’s stop at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts’ annual Cars & Stars benefit this weekend is her first performance since suffering a collapsed lung earlier this year. But she says the disorder has been somewhat overstated.
“That wasn’t anything serious” said Wilson, 71. “Everybody panicked, but I was feeling fine three days later. I was just glad I wasn’t in Australia or somewhere out of the country. I was glad to be at home.”
Wilson — who got her break in Cannonball Adderley’s band and has also worked with Ramsey Lewis, Billy Taylor, George Shearing and Pontiac’s Hank Jones — maintains a light touring schedule these days anyway. “The music is the easy part,” she explains. “I’m not so thrilled about being on the road anymore. But the show is a piece of cake.” Nevertheless, she tends to come to town with “no idea” about what she’ll do when
she hits the stage. “I just plan on getting off the plane, getting some sleep, going to sound check and doing a show,” says the Ohio-born Wilson, who now resides in California. “I sing songs. I tell stories. That afternoon we’ll see which ones I want to tell that night.”
The show will be a homecoming of sorts for Wilson. She still has family in Ohio as well as a rash of “fond memories” of playing Detroit spots such as the Flame Show Bar, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge and the Grand Bar.
“I remember hearing Sid McCoy on WCFL one night when I was coming out of a club,” Wilson says. “I turned on the radio in the car and listened to this man talk about this singer, just raving — and it was me! It was unbelievable; I didn’t know whether to jump up and down or go through the floor.”
Nancy Wilson performs for the Music Hall Center’s Cars & Stars benefit at 7:30 p.m. Friday (June 6). The Music Hall is at 350 Madison Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $32-$122. Call (313) 887-8501 or visit www.musichall.org.