Ann and Nancy Wilson

Including arguably one of the most powerful rock n’ roll singers of all time, as well as her younger sister, a guitar hero in her own right, the band Heart has made a powerful impact on rock. Producing six top 10 albums and twenty top 40 singles, Heart has proven themselves through their successful music and inspiring live performances. Ann and Nancy Wilson have carried Heart through a several decade long career and our one of the main contributors in positively altering the image of women in Rock N’ Roll music.

Growing up in a military family, Ann and Nancy spent their childhood moving around the world until eventually settling in Seattle, Washington in the early 1960’s. The girls grew up around music as their mother was a concert pianist and their father once led the U.S. Marine Corps band. Around the age of 12, Ann fell ill with mononucleosis and was bed ridden for months. Hoping to encourage her sick daughter, their mother bought Ann an acoustic guitar, though oddly enough it wasn’t Ann who began picking up the instrument, it was Nancy who couldn’t seem to put it down. Ann preferred singing, it was a tool that help her build confidence and overcome a stutter she had as a child.

Ann Wilson answered a newspaper ad for the already preexisting all male band, Heart in 1970. It wasn’t until four years later and a move to Canada with Ann’s Vietnam draft evader boyfriend, did Nancy join the group in 1974 as the lead guitarist. Nancy’s use of an acoustic guitar alongside their electric rock music morphed the band’s sound into what would be heard on their hit 1976 album, Dreamboat Annie.

Even with the colossal success of Dreamboat Annie, Ann and Nancy endured several years of scrutiny for being women in such a male dominated genre of music. The Wilson sisters were often told they weren’t bad musicians considering they were women and were often asked if Nancy’s guitar was really plugged in. Their 1977 hit “Barracuda” was written after a man asked them if they were in fact incestual lesbian lovers. The sisters were hyper sexualized in the 80’s when Nancy was asked to dress and perform in a sexual manner in their music videos to promote their music and draw the attention of a larger audience.

A few examples of the sad truth that these women, and several more, had to endure did not stop them from writing and recording music. After decades of albums and touring the world, Heart was inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 which cemented the sisters as extremely influential and impressive musicians and song writters. Refusing to give in or be degraded, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart inspire women across the globe to please, pick up that guitar and provide no apology for rocking.

–Victoria Shaffer

Ankeny, Jason. “Heart | Biography & History.” AllMusic,
“Ann Wilson.”, A&E Networks Television, 7 Mar. 2016,

11 thoughts on “Ann and Nancy Wilson

  1. Well done, my friend. Ann Wilson has one of the finest rock and roll voices ever. I have been a fan for years. My wife and I got to see them later in their career in an outdoor amphitheater, with seats up close. What a treat!

    They covered a lot of Led Zeppelin songs early in their career. When LZ was honored at the Kennedy Center a couple of years ago, it was Ann and Nancy ending the show with “Stairway to Heaven” complete with a choir that joined in. It was as fine a rendition as could be seen, maybe including by the band being honored.

    If you have never heard Ann cover “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers, you should check it out. Thanks for the post, Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always look forward to your input.
      My mother and I make a point of seeing Heart whenever they tour near us. It’s become somewhat of a tradition!

      The “Stairway to Heaven” cover at the Kennedy Center is one of my favorite live performances of all time! It gives me chills every time I watch it.

      I will look up Ann’s version of “Unchained Melody” this evening! One of my favorite songs but I have never heard her version.

      Thanks for the recommendation and for the read! Have a great day, Keith!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Many thanks. Sounds like you have a cool mother. We have taken our kids to various concerts and it was a treat.

        Tell me what you think of her “Unchained Melody.” Keith

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post about a great band! Saw them the first time in 81 with Blue Oyster Cult and Motorhead:

    Then I saw them recently after HoF induction w Joan Jett and Cheap Trick:

    Both times they were excellent. Warms my “heart” to see two killer veteran women rockers still kickin butt. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

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