*Los Angeles — Song stylist and humanitarian, Nancy Wilson, has been selected to receive the prestigious 2010 Pioneer of African American Achievement Award by the Brotherhood Crusade. The fete will be held on Friday, November 5, 2010 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, 9876 Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills at 7:00pm.
Ms. Wilson’s self proclaimed title of “song stylist” aptly fits as her diverse musical repertoire includes pop style ballads, jazz and blues, show tunes and classic standards. Critics have described her as everything from a jazz singer, to a storyteller and complete entertainer. After years at Capitol Records, her sales were second only to the Beatles, and have even surpassed Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee and the Beach Boys.
Ms. Wilson knew she wanted to sing at age four, but her professional singing career began at the age of 15, when she had her own television show and began performing in clubs in the Columbus, Ohio area. She left college in 1956 and met saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.
Impressed with her talent and determination, Adderley took an immediate interest in her career and the two kept in touch. When she moved to New York City in 1959, she gave herself six months to attain her goals. She wanted Adderley’s manager, John Levy, to represent her, and she chose Capitol Records as her desired label. She called Levy to see a show that she’d landed within four weeks of arriving in New York. Levy was so impressed with her performance; he called her the next day to set up a demo. Nancy recalls:
“Ray Bryant and I went in and recorded “Guess Who I Saw Today,” “Sometimes I’m Happy,” and two other songs. We sent them to Capitol and within five days the phone rang. Within six weeks I had all the things I wanted.”
The debut single, “Guess Who I Saw Today,” was so successful that between April of 1960 and July of 1962 Capitol Records released five Nancy Wilson albums. In 1963 “Tell Me The Truth” became her first truly major hit, leading up to her performance at the Coconut Grove in 1964 – the turning pointing of her career. From there she performed on television as well as hosted her own television show which won an Emmy in 1975. She also took on acting roles on popular TV shows throughout the years and hosted NPR’s Jazz Profiles series in 1995.
Among her many awards and honors are three Grammys, two NAACP Image Awards,
a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, streets and days dedicated in her name, honorary doctorate degrees, the UNCF Trumpet Award celebrating African-American Achievement, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP in Chicago, and Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Award.
Says Charisse Bremond Weaver, president and CEO of the Brotherhood Crusade, “We are so excited and honored that Nancy Wilson has been selected the recipient of the Pioneer of African American Achievement Award this year. In my mind, her association with the Brotherhood Crusade has come full circle. In 1971, she chaired our fundraising campaign and concert which laid the foundation for this organization becoming one of the most influential philanthropic organizations today. Her legacy of music combined with her humanitarian efforts from the Civil Rights Movement through her work to assist inner city youth through the Nancy Wilson Foundation raises consciousness and awareness to empower and enhance the lives of those in underserved communities. This makes her the fitting honoree for this year’s award.”
Some of the past recipients of the Pioneer of African American Achievement Award include Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Soledad O’Brien, Berry Gordy, Cathy Hughes, Sandra Evers-Manley, Spike Lee, Rosa Parks, Don King, Tavis Smiley, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Muhammad Ali.
The Brotherhood Crusade is a 501 (c)3 non-profit institution founded in 1968 to provide necessary resources, supportive services and a voice of advocacy to traditionally underserved communities. The organization supports families and individuals by promoting health and wellness, providing and enhancing educational opportunities, cultivating economic growth and building community agencies and institutions. Of the many programs that are offered by the organization to positively impact the lives of those they serve, it is the Youth Development Program that makes Bremond Weaver’s eyes sparkle. “I am so proud of the many programs that we offer to help our youth, because they are the seeds that we must water and nurture for future generations. Our G.R.Y.D. program (Gang Reduction & Youth Development) has successfully taught and empowered youth through academic enrichment, exposure to performance arts, life skills, mentoring and training; our Brother to Brother men and boys of color program brings marginalized youth together with positive male role models in an effort to dispel common stereotypes and promote trust and mutual respect; and the Jim Cleamons Books and Basketball Camp, an education and sports experience that focuses on academic enrichment in math and science, personal development, financial literacy, community development, and team building skills, transforms lives in a remarkable way. In addition we offer mentoring programs and so much more. We are very committed to enhancing the youth experience-in fact, we created and launched a comprehensive, coordinated and research based youth development initiative earlier this year that is the cornerstone to our 10-Year Community Development Plan.”
Singer/songwriter Patti Austin will serve as the evening’s musical entertainment. Ms. Austin began singing at age three with her godmother, Dinah Washington, at New York’s famed Apollo Theatre. At the age of nine, she toured Europe with her godfather, Quincy Jones, and again at 16 with Harry Belafonte. In the 1970s, her talents sparked the interest of singer/songwriter Valerie Simpson (of Ashford and Simpson fame) and she soon started composing and singing jingles and became one of the decades much sought after session vocalists. Her big break came from a performance on Quincy Jones’s Grammy nominated album, The Dude, which garnered several chart topping singles including “Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me” and “Razzmatazz”. She went on to record several hit duets with James Ingram, including the song “How Do You Keep The Music Playing”, which earned an Academy Award nod. Ms. Austin continues to enthrall audiences the world over with her prolific vocal and songwriting styles.
NBC4 (KNBC-TV) news anchor Chris Shauble will serve as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.
“We are so grateful to our partners and sponsors whose contributions help us help our community,” furthers Bremond Weaver. “They are the backbone of our organization.” Supporters for this year’s dinner include: Verizon. Wells Fargo, Fuserna Foundation, Bank of America, Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt , Los Angeles Sentinel, Northern Trust, Northrop Grumman, Southern California Edison, Southwest Airlines, AT&T, Bruce Karatz Family Foundation, CFSA, DirecTV, J.P Morgan Chase, Kaiser Permanente, Honda, Mattel, NBC Universal, Nestle, Nielsen Media Company, SEIU Local 99, SEIU United Long Term Care Workers, State Farm Insurance, The Gas Company, US Bank, Union Bank of California Foundation, AFSCME, African American Unity Center, Blaylock Robert Van, LLC, Boeing , Enterprise, Fox, NBC4, Raytheon, SMS Transportation , Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, AFL-CIO, Bremond Family, California Teachers Association, James & Jacqueline Castillo, Center Empowerment for Families, Green Dot, Herbalife, Interior Music, Lockheed Martin, Hill & Morgan , J.U.G.S , Metropolitan Water District , The Wiley Center for Speech and Language Development, Sabriya’s Castle of Fun Foundation and Comerica Bank.
For more information on the Brotherhood Crusade or to purchase tickets, please call 323.846.1649 or visit www.brotherhoodcrusade.org. Sponsorships are available and the event is open to the public.