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Heart's Ann Wilson - Part Two - Off The Road - HPR's All Things Considered

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artist photo courtesy Criss Cain
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Today for Off the Road, HPR All Things Considered Host Dave Lawrence continues two weeks of celebrating two pioneering women of rock: sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. This week it's lead vocalist Ann Wilson.

Hear part one from yesterday. 

Ann Wilson is known as among the great rock vocalists, with her powerful voice a radio fixture since the band emerged from the Pacific Northwest in 1975. Songs like Magic Man, Crazy on You, Straight On, Heartless, Dog and Butterfly and Even It Up became radio staples, to this day core songs on the classic rock / classic hits radio playlists. They were pioneers in rock, with two women fronting a band in a male-dominated industry, and in many cases, Heart were something of a hard rock group, attracting legions of male and female fans. The band would continue racking up hits in the 1980’s with more pop material, like These Dreams, Alone, All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You, Never, How Can I Refuse, and If Looks Could Kill. When the Seattle grunge scene of the early 1990’s emerged, Heart was embraced by many of the acts coming out of the city, with Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Alice in Chains all recording at their Bad Animals Studios in Seattle. As that era progressed, Heart were packaged with other classic rock bands on annual summer bills that would pack outdoor concert venues across the country. In 2012, their notorious love of Led Zeppelin, who they often covered over the decades, https://youtu.be/LFxOaDeJmXk">won them the coveted spot of providing the finale song, Stairway To Heaven, when Led Zeppelin were honored at the Kennedy Center, with an audience including the band’s three surviving members and President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama, as they performed with late drummer John Bonham's son, Jason.

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Credit Criss Cain
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Over the last several months, Ann has released a series of newly recorded songs, and in our feature, and full interview, we discussed many of them. Among the tracks is a cover of the Steve Earle song The Revolution Starts Now, which we featured in part one yesterday, and Ann explained her motivation to cover it, driven by the fractured state the country was in during the election period of 2020. Included in this post is the song’s touching video, which we also discuss, a loud call for unity, portraying a wide range of lifestyles, races, and ethnicities all coexisting peacefully. She also discussed her cover of Alice in Chain’s Rooster, and explained the unique cross-country trip she took in 2020 during the pandemic, during which the music was recorded.

Today we’ll go all the way back to the beginning and hear how Ann’s musical spark was first ignited, as she shares the first song she ever sang, early influences and experiences, including seeing her first Led Zeppelin show and a few fun encounters with Robert Plant. Ann also offers some fun storytelling featuring career highlights and hilarious encounters, including experiences with Queen, Aretha Franklin, and performing at perhaps Heart's biggest concert of all time, Cal Jam II in 1978, before an audience of 350,000. We’ll also post the complete nearly hour-long conversation.

While our interview was recorded before it was announced, Ann is releasing an EP of material recorded prior to her days in Heart, Ann Wilson – The Daybreaks, featuring four songs recorded in 1969 when Ann fronted the band The Daybreaks! Learn more about pre-ordering it on her website. Here's a look at the album artwork:

 

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Ann's sister Nancy returns to Off the Road next week. Hear her interview from January: part one and part two.   

Off the Road is a series of interviews with musicians remotely sharing how they’ve been touched by the pandemic and other crises, as well as discussing their latest projects and hearing some classic storytelling, including hours of conversation and many exclusive musical performances, speaking to artists across the musical spectrum, like Jack JohnsonCarlos SantanaLinda RonstadtSystem of a DownRandy BreckerDeep PurpleJimmy WebbJoe SatrianiWilliam ShatnerSoul AsylumThe DoorsGeorge Benson10,000 ManiacsHerb Alpert and Al Di Meola.

MORE ANN:

Hear the complete new interview:

Check out Ann's new song, Black Wing, included in today's feature:

See footage of Ann and Heart performing in front of perhaps the biggest audience of their career, Cal Jam II, in Ontario, California, before a crowd estimated to be 350,000:

See Ann and Heart live at Royal Albert Hall, London, in 2016, playing the song George Harrison sung to Ann over the phone, as she described in today's interview feature: 

Hear Dave's other interviews with Ann over the years: 201020072004 and 2003.

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Dave Lawrence has been on the radio since 1990.