Nancy Wilson Kicks off 2021 with She Rocks Award and First Solo Album

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Photo by Sacha Guzy
       

Nancy Wilson, co-founder of the multi-platinum Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted band Heart, will be honored at the Ninth Annual She Rocks Awards on January 22, 2021 sponsored by Positive Grid. The event is a yearly tradition hosted by the Women’s International Music Network by founder Laura B. Whitmore held during NAMM week, but this year transforms into an online experience hosted by Lzzy Hale (Halestorm) and Lyndsey Parker (Yahoo Entertainment/SiriusXM) with opening act Magnolia Boulevard sponsored by PRS Guitars.

A busy new year so far, Wilson will be honored along with The Go-Go’s, Cherie Currie, Cindy Blackman-Santana, Amy Lee (Evanescence), Starr Parodi, Ann Mincieli, and other music industry leaders.

Top row L to R: Nancy Wilson, Amy Lee (Evanescence), Margaret Cho, Cindy Blackman Santana, The Go-Go’s, Bottom row L to R: Cherie Currie, Starr Parodi, Ann Mincieli, Sharon Hennessey, Gwen Bethel Riley, Kim Warnick

Wilson and her sister Ann, starry-eyed, Beatle-loving kids, were destined for greatness. Later dubbed the “female Led Zeppelin,” they’ve enjoyed a decades-long career selling thirty-five million albums with hits like “These Dreams” and “Magic Man,” but back in the ‘70s, it wasn’t easy navigating the rock scene with little support for female artists.

That’s partly why this honor is a full-circle moment for Wilson who said, “It means a lot to me because it’s been a semi-hostile environment for a lot of women in the industry, not just in music, but the entertainment industry. I applaud women who organize for other women, and being part of that means a lot to me because it’s women acknowledging women—and that’s a good thing.”

Wilson also spoke about encouraging unity on all fronts, saying, “It’s always a good thing to foster unity in larger groups of people, not only to support each other but also to identify with the people that are in the group.” “People who are unified have the strength to do more. It’s really more important than ever, especially now, under these cruel and unusual circumstances we’ve been living through.”

Heart was never shy about using songwriting as a means toward self-empowerment. “Barracuda” and “Treat Me Well” off 1977’s Little Queen speak volumes today. “I’ve heard people say that any culture is as good as it treats its women,” offers Wilson. “It’s really true. And how it treats each other. So, right now, our culture’s not looking so great. But I think when it reaches a boiling point, sometimes it’s the point of no return, and things have to get better. It’s like critical mass has been reached. And, from there, it has to improve. So that’s my hopeful offering.”

Wilson’s classic riffs, fierce acoustic work, and inventive songwriting propelled her to guitar God status. Needless to say, her first soon-to-be-released solo album is a long-awaited event for fans and guitar fanatics alike. To focus her creative energy during the pandemic, she recorded the eight tracks from her home in Northern California and networked with several Seattle-based Heart players. Guest musicians also include Sammy Hagar, Taylor Hawkins, Duff McKagan, and Liv Warfield.

Are you finishing up the new album?

We’re getting close. The next single coming out is called “You and Me.” It’s a song I worked on with Sue Ennis, who’s been a long-time collaborator with Heart. We both lost our mom’s a while back, and it’s kind of a universal mom song. It’s about what you go through and how your mom has molded your reality, and how she’s still in it even if she’s not physically around.

Who were your early musical role models? 

Well, since The Beatles arrived when I was about eight, many rock bands have been my main role models. Joni Mitchell and a lot of the LA singer-songwriters, the Laurel Canyon artists. All the artists from that era of Neil Young. It’s been incredible to be on the planet long enough to see how many amazing eras we’ve been through musically.

Your thoughts on today’s artists? 

I really admire a lot of the young musicians today. I love Taylor Swift’s Evermore and Folklore albums. And I’m way into a lot of new music, too, like Soccer Mommy. And Grimes is one of my big favorites. There’s a lot of great new girls coming up in music. That’s really encouraging to see. Phoebe Bridgers is amazing, too, just got her album. When I go work out in my gym, which I’m lucky enough to have (laughs), I put on all these albums—rediscovered Harry Styles. So much great new stuff coming out.

It wasn’t always like that for a while there, I guess more in the ’80s. The ’90s was great because of bands like Nirvana, all the Seattle bands that really erupted after the corporate ’80s stuff. But sometimes it gets kind of bleak on the landscape and all you get is the pop music that sounds the same. But right now, there’s some extra cool stuff happening. It’s good to see it. 

What about the surge of female guitarists on the scene?

It’s an interesting time—girls are really leaning into the musical thing and becoming proficient, putting bands together. There are more girls buying guitars and learning guitar playing than ever before—more than guys. It’s a hopeful time when women have the confidence and are brave enough to feel that they belong in that world.

Tune into the She Rocks Awards ceremony to watch all the happenings. The She Rocks Awards, founded by the Women’s International Music Network (WiMN), takes place at 6:30 p.m. PT on Friday, January 22, 2021. Viewing is free to the public, but VIP tickets and gift bags are available for purchase. The VIP bag includes great items from PRS Guitars, Marshall, D’Addario, M.A.C Cosmetics, The Music People, Cuccio, Positive Grid, Guitar Girl Magazine, Clif, and more.

Other event highlights include:

Live, virtual musical performances
Awards and speeches
Celebrity appearances
Silent auction

For info, visit sherocksawards.com/tickets.