With all that Nancy Wilson has given to the world of music, she is giving one more gift, R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal) (MCG Jazz, MCGJ 1013). R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal) started with the concept of Miss Wilson picking out songs that were near and dear to her, yet were compositions she had never recorded in her 50 years in the music business and 67 recordings. The exhaustive process of selecting these rare and highly personal songs took Miss Wilson on a powerful musical journey. Soon it became evident that each song would require special treatment.
"I chose songs that I have always enjoyed but never recorded," Nancy says. "Believe it or not most albums have a theme that runs through them and they didn’t fit into what I was doing at the moment. But they lingered in the back of my mind."
Every track on R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal) has a guest and a unique arrangement tailored to Miss Wilson’s distinctive style of telling a story. With guests ranging from R&B star, Kenny Lattimore to jazz legends George Shearing, Toots Thielemans and Phil Woods – Miss Wilson’s vast musical palette is well represented.
The duet with Kenny Lattimore, "Why Did I Choose You," was inspired by Nancy’s long admiration of Marvin Gaye. An album that Marvin considered his finest, and an album on which he sang the kind of music he always wanted to sing. Miss Wilson adds, "He had started his career by singing ballads and standards, but the marketplace wasn't ready for it. So, from the lost masterpiece Vulnerable, I picked ‘Why Did I Choose You,’ recorded in the ‘60s and released in 1985."
Nancy had a long friendship with her pastor, O.C. Smith. After his recent passing, she wanted to pay tribute to him and hence included an intimate version of "Little Green Apples" that she had heard him sing so many times, as well as requested him to sing on numerous occasions. "Johnny Pate being a composer, arranger, bassist and disc jockey has always been there for Joe Williams and I," she comments. "I sat down with Johnny at his home in Las Vegas and he played this song for me, it really stuck, but it took months before I called and said, ‘I want that tune.’ Johnny said when he first heard it he thought I could put my heart and soul into it."
"You’ve probably heard me say this time and time again, but it is the story contained within the lyrics that get me," Miss Wilson says. "Love, found, lost, betrayed, honored, and held delicately in your hands and heart are my kind of songs. Next to life itself is the love of life, family and that special someone who becomes the other half of you are the most important pieces of the heart. There in lies the beauty of it all."
This project marks the second collaboration between Miss Wilson and MCG Jazz – a non-profit arts and education center in Pittsburgh, PA. "In this era of ‘one-hit-wonders,’ it is an honor for MCG Jazz to present one of the true, enduring masters whose music will live forever," said Marty Ashby, Executive Producer for MCG Jazz
Miss Wilson’s first project with MCG Jazz was also a defining recording. Through her relationship with MCG Jazz, Miss Wilson finally fulfilled a dream that had eluded her for many years. She had never recorded an entire Christmas album. A Nancy Wilson Christmas (MCGJ 1008) was released for the 2001 holiday season, reaching #4 on Billboard’s jazz chart and was the fifth best selling jazz album of 2001.
Recently, Nancy Wilson has begun to talk about giving up the road and retiring to spend more time with her family and her grandchildren. Her fans will miss her, but with the release of R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal), we still have plenty of listening and plenty of memories.