Ann Wilson

By: Lori Smerilson Carson

When music has basically been your entire life, your level of expertise is definitely the sky is the limit. Singer/Songwriter Ann Wilson is a true example of this which is evident on her latest solo album Fierce Bliss released on April 29th. Wilson, along with her sister Guitarist Nancy Wilson and their band Heart, established world-renown success since their formation in 1973. Their debut album Dreamboat Annie released in 1975, spawned hits singles “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You”. They continued to wow and amaze the rock world as they went on to reach eight-time Platinum status and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Now, this extraordinarily talented musician is displaying her talent and abilities with her new original LP and taking her new band Guitarist Tom Bukovac, Bassist Tony Lucido, Drummer Sean T Lane, Keyboardists Gordon Mote and Tim Lauer on tour which Floridians can experience this outstanding show on Thursday, June 16th at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, FL and Friday, June 17th at The Parker Playhouse in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Catching up with Wilson just prior to the start of the tour, she revealed some details about her new record, the new show, and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: What can fans look forward to with the new tour?
Ann Wilson: Well, they can look forward to hearing some Heart songs, some new songs off my new record Fierce Bliss and some really fun covers. A great band. Real fiery, energized band, been working with. Yeah, it’s just gonna be great!

SFL Music: What inspired you to write Fierce Bliss? It came about during the pandemic lockdown?
Wilson: Yeah, it was quite enough so that I could actually get new ideas and be relaxed enough just to write. The stuff I was writing in my journal just kind of started becoming songs. So yeah, it was really great. I’ve always wanted to go down and work at Muscle Shoals (Sound) Studios, fame studio. It was a bucket list thing of mine. So, I went down there with some demos and met some musicians down there and we developed them, and pretty soon we realized we had a band. We all really got along with each other and we can hang out you know, and so pretty soon we just started writing and now we have an album. So, it’s really cool.

SFL Music: I really liked the album, the variety, those blues and rock elements that I heard from different periods of time. You can hear some of the influence from your original stuff as well, and your voice is still amazing as ever!
Wilson: Thank you.

SFL Music: You’re welcome. What was it about that studio that it was on your bucket list for you to record there?
Wilson: Oh, it’s so historic. I mean, so many amazing artists down through the decades have worked there and it’s got a history about it and a magic about it sort of. So, when you go in there, you really feel it.

SFL Music: Then you moved onto Nashville at Sound Stage (Studios) where you worked with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Warren Haynes. How did that all come about?
Wilson: I’ve been friends with Warren for quite a while and he wanted to write something. We wrote something together, two things. So, I went up to Connecticut to the Power Station where Gov’t Mule was making two albums at once. They took a blues room and a rock room. The first day we went into the rock room. Next day we went into the blues room and we came up with “Gladiator” and “Angel’s Blues”. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, I met for the first-time in Nashville working on “Missionary Man” and “Bridge of Sighs” and he’s just such a fine guitar player and great human.

SFL Music: What inspired those? How did they come about?
Wilson: Well, Kenny Wayne and I have an attorney in common and it was this attorney’s idea that Kenny Wayne and I get together and do something and when we did, it just exploded. I mean, it was really good. It was a great idea. So, we had a list, Kenny Wayne and I had a list of songs we wanted to maybe do together and when I suggested “Bridge of Sighs” (Robin Trower), Kenny just lit up. He really nailed that song.

SFL Music: They say rock is based on blues. You really seem to have a strong connection to that. Would you say so? Is there blues in your past?
Wilson: Oh, “Bridge of Sighs”?

SFL Music: Yes.
Wilson: When it first came out, I was well you know, a lot younger and in school, and that song just struck me as being so beautiful and so the perfect expression of the blues on a higher level, and I just always wanted to do it and finally I just said, what the heck, I’m gonna do it! Got the right guitar player and away we went.

SFL Music: Songs like “Greed”, I saw the video. Really liked it. What inspired that?
Wilson: Well, it’s just you know, I pay attention to what’s going on in the world. In the news and headlines and all that, and we have so many problems that are connected to greed and power hungry, power lust. So, I was thinking about writing a song around that and I did and it’s “Greed”. That’s what I wrote “Greed” about. The lust for power and stuff and things that seem to be at the forefront of our culture at the moment.

SFL Music: That’s a great topic unfortunately, right?
Wilson: Yeah.

SFL Music: What inspired you to write “A Moment in Heaven”?
Wilson: That’s a little poke at the L.A. Hollywood star maker machinery. The media machine you know, and just the planned obsolescence. You have a moment in the sun and then you better get out of the way because the next one’s coming up (she laughed).

SFL Music: You do have a star on the walk of fame though, right?
Wilson: Yeah, yeah.

SFL Music: How did you feel about that when you learned of it?
Wilson: Well, I thought it was kind of trippy and it certainly is a big thing over in Hollywood. They make a big deal out of it. It’s like a media event. Everybody shows up, the paparazzi and all that. It’s a lot of brew ha ha and excitement over getting your name in the side walk, for sure (she laughed).

SFL Music: What inspired you to re-record “Love of My Life” (Queen)? It’s great that you have Vince Gill on it. What about this song struck you?
Wilson: I’ve always thought it was a beautiful song and I had the idea to take it out of the sort of campy style that Queen did it in and just do it as a straight love duet, and Vince was the perfect voice for it, I think because his voice is so angelic.

SFL Music: Now “Black Wing”, you explained that you live on the St. Johns River which I’m very familiar with. Your explanation with the birds and wanting to fly away like them. Elaborate on that for our readers please. How that inspired the song.
Wilson: Yeah, well you know, everybody stayed in the house for a year and a half there, for a couple of years. So, I was one who was looking out the window at the St. Johns. It’s a big river as you know, and lots of big sea birds over the river, and I got to the point where I was looking out the window and envying the birds, their freedom. Just talking to ‘em and going, well, I wish I was you. I have to stay in the house, but you get to, you could fly to New York if you want. You can fly to St. Augustine. Anywhere you want to go, you’re free. So, that made me get the idea for “Black Wing”.

SFL Music: You mentioned it was quiet, so a lot of the writing you did at home with that scenery?
Wilson: Yes. Right, just like with a guitar and a little funky keyboard and an iPhone. I made demos and then went to the studios and made ‘em into songs.

SFL Music: What inspires you when you write? In your bio you said, a good song starts out with a story?
Wilson: Uh huh, yeah.

SFL Music: Is that your focus on writing?
Wilson: Yeah. I think the story of the song is what I tune into the most. As a lyricist especially. I basically just start writing everything down that’s going through my head and then I go back and I find the parts that really glow, and that’s what I use for the basis of my songs.

SFL Music: What made you decide to be a professional musician?
Wilson: My family was a real musical family. My parents, neither of them were ever professional, but they were both, my father was fine singer and my mother was a trained classical pianist. They always had music playing in the house, so it wasn’t much of a stretch for my sister and I to start playing guitars and then wanting to play it at my parent’s cocktail parties, and then youth Sunday and then maybe in a club. Just the groove from just the base of coming from a musical family.

SFL Music: Heart has sold thirty-five million records worldwide, top ten charts since the seventies. What would you recommend to an up-and-coming musician for success and longevity?
Wilson: Well, I can’t speak to success or longevity, because that depends on so many factors. Success and longevity really depend on what’s happening in the music industry. The people you meet along the way that help you, who were there at certain moments that are pivotal, but the thing that I would say to people is just don’t even attempt it unless you’re really serious because a real career in the music industry is gonna take sacrifice like you’ve probably never sacrificed before (she laughed). Everything goes by the wayside if your serious about having a music career, and it probably won’t pay very well in the beginning. You’ll have to figure out how to do that. You’ve got to locate where your talent is. It’s not just like The Voice or one of those competition shows out of Hollywood where you win a contest. No, it’s like honing your craft and going through the hard work of playing every night in little dives or whatever it takes to hone your craft. Then you have something original.

SFL Music: That’s great advice. Was there anything else new coming out? Any new videos? There are a lot of lyric videos out. Are there any more coming down the line?
Wilson: Yeah, we like to put out videos as often as we can. We have a couple of nights in Nashville. I think one of them is gonna be streamed or recorded video at the very least, and we’ll make videos out of it.

SFL Music: So, fans can just check out your social media to see what’s coming up?
Wilson: Yeah, YouTube, my website. There’s all kinds of content.

SFL Music: The tour is going nationwide?
Wilson: Yeah, and we’re going to Mexico. We’re going to Europe and hopefully to Japan next year. We’re starting out in South Carolina in about three days and then we’re gonna be going around the country, playing just about every part of the country until then end of October.

SFL Music: Two of your musicians, the guitarist and bass player are the ones that worked with you in Muscle Shoals, correct?
Wilson: Right. Yeah, and my drummer.

SFL Music: Oh, so they’re all new? You haven’t worked with them before, right?
Wilson: Right, yeah. We actually did a whole bunch of shows last year. We did about twenty-five shows last year together, but this is the first major tour we’ve done this year, so yeah. It’s an amazing band. It’s just so fiery and it’s on such a high level of musicianship, but at the same time it’s just rock.

SFL Music: It’s awesome that you have this new music. Did you ever have a favorite song from Heart or no?
Wilson: Well, I think if I had to choose one, it would be “Crazy on You” just because I think it stands the test of time you know, and I think it’s just as relevant now, maybe more relevant than it was when it was written in 1975, I guess.

SFL Music: I saw the promos, you look amazing. What is your secret for all of us women?
Wilson: No secret.

SFL Music: Just take good care of yourself?
Wilson: Just keep up and at ‘em, you know, I think. Drink a lot of water (she laughed).

SFL Music: Was there anything else you wanted fans to know about the tour?
Wilson: Well, I hope that they’ll come and see it and hear it ‘cause it’s a really good show. It’s quality and its new and fresh, but there’s also Heart songs in it, so if you just want to hear Heart songs, you can come and get that too.

SFL Music: Well, I think everyone’s going to like the new album as well.
Wilson: That’s great! That’s great. I love that.

FIERCE BLISS buy link:

Concert June 17 –   Ann Wilson of Heart | Broward Center for the Performing Arts

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