Heart’s Ann Wilson reflects on career as she prepares to rock The Birchmere
Her powerful voice propelled Heart to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This week, Ann Wilson rocked The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va. On Saturday night.
OMCP’s Jason Fraley chats with Ann Wilson (part 1)
Her powerful voice propelled Heart to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
This week, Ann Wilson rocks The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va. on Saturday night.
“I really did [miss it]; I climbed the walls for a year and a half, ”Wilson told WTOP. “I just released another EP called ‘Sawheat 8’, there will be a few songs of that in the set. There will be a few songs that I have written since then. I do a few Heart songs and a few covers. Like the last set I played there, just a really fun set that I love to sing.
Born in San Diego in 1950, Wilson and her sister Nancy rebounded as daughters of a United States Navy, living in Panama and Taiwan before settling in Seattle, Washington, in the early 1960s.
“Our parents were real music lovers and always had music in the house,” Wilson said. “There was never a time when there was silence in the house; there was always a sort of musical atmosphere. All different genres: classical music, opera, they weren’t really into country music, but they were into jazz and folk music… It was quite easy to blend into our own music.
She and Nancy have scratched the Beatles, Paul Simon and The Association.
“I’m four years older than Nancy, so I guess I was 13 when I got my first guitar and she was 8 or 9,” Wilson said. “We would share a room in our parents’ house and just sit on the beds and learn to play the guitar. I don’t think any of us took any lessons, we just learned together… First our parents ‘cocktails and then our parents’ church on Youth Sunday, we got to go play. It pretty much cemented the idea of being on stage in front of people performing. “
Around the same time, the Fisher brothers – Ann was dating Michael, while Nancy was dating Roger – were playing in a band called The Army, which they renamed White Heart and then Heart.
“They put an ad in the paper and this guy I was with in a drums band, we both responded to the ad and got hired,” Wilson said. “We rebranded ourselves as Hocus Pocus and played for three years under that name in Washington, Montana, Oregon and all the way to Vancouver until I met Michael Fisher, who I fell in love with. . [and] went to Vancouver to be with him.
They changed the name to Heart, which was already on the band’s gear, to release their debut album “Dreamboat Annie”. The album was released in Canada in August 1975 and in America on Valentine’s Day in 1976, going platinum with megahits like “Magic Man”.
“It was a combination of groove, the guitar sounds are very in your face and the story is a starting song,” Wilson said. “A lot of people in my age group have been through this, individualizing and talking to their parents and saying, ‘No I’m not going to be your way, I’m going to be my way.’ I think that’s why it stuck in. People liked the freedom and independence of it all.
The same album also featured the hit song “Crazy on You”.
“It’s really cool to sing,” Wilson said. “I remember singing the lead vocals in the studio… The vocals lit up and I found places in my lineup that I didn’t know I had.”
Their next album, “Little Queen”, was released in 1977 and went multi-platinum with hits like “Barracuda”, reflecting the proverbial human piranhas who are starting to swim through their lives due to their growing fame.
“[It’s about] the extreme level of uncontrolled sexism that was occurring in the 1970s, ”Wilson said. “At the time, it was just amazing, so it was a screed against that.”
Three more platinum albums followed, “Magazine” (1977), “Dog and Butterfly” (1978) and “Bebe le Strange” (1980), followed by “Private Audition” (1982) and “Passionworks” (1983). All of this was incorporated into their eighth album “Heart” (1985), with hits such as “These Dreams” (No. 1), “Nothin ‘At All” (No. 10), “Never” (No. 2 ) and “What About Love” (n ° 3), which she didn’t want to sing at the start.
“It’s just a good song,” Wilson said. “There is a good old chorus in chorus. When I first heard the demo I heard the chorus but I didn’t like the demo because the singer in the demo was just a whiny bitch and I said, ‘My God, this is a victim song and it really isn’t me. ‘ But my producer convinced me to sing it and put my stamp on it, he lost that victim thing and it came out really well.
The same goes for his rendition of the power ballad “Alone”, which first topped the Billboard charts in 1987 on the album “Bad Animals”, proving that Heart was a steadfast force for the ’80s.
“This was written by Tom Kelly and Billy steinberg, a few LA songwriters who also wrote “True Colors,” “I’ll Stand By You,” and other bombastic ballads, ”Wilson said. “I love this song because it’s clean, pure, huge and that human scream of frustration that I felt was really great.”
Soon after, she went “alone” as a solo artist for a brave new chapter in her career.
“It was really a new lease of life for me,” Wilson said. “I felt like I had reached the end of what I could do with Heart music and I really needed an outlet to broaden my horizons. So I started this band called The Ann Wilson Thing. … And we went out and played every hole in the wall that I could find… I learned to sing in a whole different way and to add to what I already knew.
Some in Birchmere’s audience may have even seen Wilson in Washington at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, paying a startling tribute to Led Zeppelin, making Robert Plant and Jimmy Page cry with a choir performance of “Stairway to Heaven.”
“That night, the way the stage was set up, the Zeppelin guys were in the dressing rooms so we couldn’t see them up close from the stage,” Wilson said. “We didn’t know how they reacted until we watched it later on YouTube like everyone else. It felt good that they were moved.
That same night, Heart learned he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“For them to induct people like Joan Jett, Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith, they’re real rockers who just happen to be the opposite sex,” Wilson said. “I don’t hold myself and Nancy responsible for breaking down doors for women. It took a lot of different people: Janis [Joplin], Grace Slick, Stevie Nicks, Suzi Quatro, Blondie, who have all gone off the beaten track. It took us all. “
Now is your chance to see the Hall of Famer speak at the Birchmere, albeit wearing masks.
“They’ve never seen my show like it is now,” Wilson said. “I have this new band called The Amazing Dogs… They’ve really gone up a few notches musically. It’s gonna be really exciting for people when they hear it. It’s rocking, solid, it becomes tender, it’s new and fresh, but yet you touch the old … But you have to wear your mask. It’s a small sacrifice to make.
OMCT’s Jason Fraley chats with Ann Wilson (Part 2)