Ann and Nancy Wilson`s schedule, and hearts, have been pretty full during the past year.
The groundbreaking Heart sisters released a box set ("Strange Euphoria") and a new album ("Fanatic"), and they also published the memoir "Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock and Roll." And, oh yeah, there was that little matter of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during April.
"I never really thought it would be something that would come our way, to be honest," says older sister Ann Wilson, 63. "But I'm thrilled. I'm beyond thrilled. That kind of acknowledgement is just amazing. We're out working so hard all the time, and at times it can really feel like a tree falling in the forest that no one knows about.
"So it's awesome and...I am just amazed."
Before that honor, however, Heart was able to honor one of its heroes -- Led Zeppelin. The Wilsons joined an all-star band that included Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zep drummer John Bonham, to play "Stairway To Heaven" for the group's Kennedy Center Honor in December in Washington, D.C. And Ann says it was every bit as moving as the Rock Hall induction.
"Oh, man, that was one of the most powerful highs I've ever had," she gushes, "in front of the Obamas and, y'know, Led Zeppelin and a house full of real heavies, I mean actors, politicians, artists, people in the world and the country that you never think you're gonna meet, let alone stand up and sing in front of.
"And it wasn't like they said, 'Here, we're gonna throw you a bone. You can do 'Rock and Roll' or some song like that.' No, it was like probably the most potent Zeppelin song ever written. We really had an amazing evening and it came off really well. It worked really, really well. Nancy and I were just so thrilled. We were so stoked afterwards."
The segment did, in fact, lay the groundwork for Heart's summer tour with Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, a tribute act that pays homage to both his father and his band. The two groups are ending the evening with a long set of all-Zep material, including "Stairway..," and Bonham -- who's admittedly protective of his father's legacy -- says he couldn't imagine a better group to be collaborating with.
"I think they've got the authenticity of it," explains Bonham, 46. "(Ann)'s still got some amazing pipe, and they both really get into the whole vibe of the light and shade of the (Led Zeppelin) music. It's not just a crash, bang, wallop, 'Let's throw it together' like so many other people do.
"They get that Led Zeppelin was more than that. They get the fact they were so musical, so we want to put every element into that 45-minutes together, from acoustic to heavy. We're not just doing the basics of 'Rock and Roll' and 'Black Dog.' It's a special thing we're doing."
Heart and Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 19, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $26-$50.50 pavilion, 420 lawn with a $60 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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