with the bold text in the example below: The Skychi Travel Guide : "Sweet Nancy" Wilson Love Affair With Chicago!

Monday, March 10, 2014

"Sweet Nancy" Wilson Love Affair With Chicago!

Sutherland Apartments at 47th & Drexel formerly Sutherland Hotel which housed the Sutherland Show Lounge.
Sutherland Apartments at 4659 South Drexel Blvd. formerly Sutherland Hotel
which housed the Sutherland Show Lounge.
"In 1954 when I graduated from high school I was seventeen years old and an experienced entertainer; I had been working weekends in nightclubs and earning fifteen to twenty dollars a gig. I traveled with a band called the Sultans of  Swing, headed by a fellow named Rolly Rudolph. We went as far south as Cincinnati and as far west as Fort Wayne, Indiana. I took my younger brother Michael along as my chaperone.

I worked in Chicago for the first time in 1956 with Rusty Bryant's band. Rusty was an Ohio boy who became popular back home playing tunes like "Castle Rock" and "Night Train". We were booked into the Crown Propeller Lounge on East 63rd Street. Paula Grier also worked there, along with a shake-dancer and a couple of other entertainers.  The owner of the lounge insisted that when the girls finished their numbers on the raised stage behind the bar; they go out front to the bar and sit and drink with the customers. Paula told me the girls always did that. I didn't.  After I had been working there a couple of nights the owner came up to me and told me to go and sit on a bar stool. I said I didn't care what the girls had always done. I told the owner I wouldn't do it; I had been hired by the band and the band paid me to sing and that was all I was going to do in the Propeller Lounge. That was the only really bad experience I had in Chicago.
My next memorable trip was to New York in 1959. I went there in search of fame and fortune with money I had saved from gigging.  I didn't think I was going to set the world on fire but I was confident that I could get some kind job. The first job I got was receptionist for a handbag manufacturer in the garment district in midtown Manhattan. Then I got a job as a Girl Friday at New York Institute of Technology,  where I didn't have to punch in until noon, so I could look for a singing gig in the evening.  I was lucky enough to get a job singing weekends at the Club Morocco in the Bronx. It was there that my friend Cannonball Adderley brought in John Levy to hear me sing one night. Levy managed Dakota Station, Joe Williams, George Shearing, Ramsey Lewis and of course Adderley himself. Levy liked what he heard, and told me he would call me the next day, whcih he did. Subsequently he had me make demo records which he airmailed to Capitol Records in Los Angeles.  Within five weeks I was signed as a recording artist for Capitol, and there I met the late great Nat "King" Cole. We became fast friends.

I recorded my album for Capitol in December,  1959. It was "Like in Love", released April, 1960. Later that year I played the Sutherland Show Lounge in Chicago at 47th and Drexel Boulevard with Cannonball Adderley and Flip Wilson. Disc jockies Sid McCoy and Daddy-O Daylie picked up my album and gave it big play. Sid McCoy began to call me "Sweet Nancy". These two disc jockies really made it happen for me. Later a fellow in Los Angeles named Johnny Mangus, who was considered one of the most knowledgeable record spinners in the country,  picked up the Nancy beat on the West Coast.  I had national recognition. Mangus was almost embarrassing. He said, "Nancy is singularly the most important singer of the decade. She can lift a song off the printed page and groove it to her own identity.  She has broken a sound barrier and made a success of pure talent."
My love affair with Chicago started at the Sutherland Show Lounge-- I consider that the foundation for what's happening for me today, nationally and internationally.  It's a love affair that's been going on for over twenty years. After the Sutherland Lounge there were Mr. Kelly's, the Palmer House and later the Blue Max. Currently it's Rick Cafe. I've also done concerts at the Civic Opera House, the Arie Crown Theater and the Auditorium Theater. Of the large houses,  I think that the acoustics and the sound system at the Auditorium are close to perfection as anything you will find. I regret I cannot say the same thing for the Arie Crown.

Chicago is my number one city. Sales were broken here for my first album and this town still leads the country,  as it has for twenty years, in sales of my records.  I don't want to sound like the Chicago Chamber of Commerce,  but I had to tell it like it is. Chicago has been wonderful.  It's just great."

An excerpt of an interview with Nancy Wilson by Dempsey J. Travis, author of "An Autobiography of Black Jazz"

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