During the opening Breakfast of Champions session at The 2019 NAMM Show, Nancy Wilson, the celebrated guitar virtuoso and co-founder of seminal rock band HEART, was presented with the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) "Music For Life" award. The award honors pioneering artists who, through their careers and artistic expression, have inspired others to pursue a more musical world.
The award was presented by NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond, who introduced Wilson with a tribute to her pivotal role in helping to redefine women in rock music, and a legacy of music at the top of the charts. "She is a guitar pioneer, a songwriting pioneer, a legendary singer, a film composer, a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee, and has done so much to advance the cause of music-making," Lamond said. "And for those reasons and many more, we are honored to recognize her today."
Nancy Wilson spoke of her early inspiration: "As a kid, when THE BEATLES happened, it was a lightning bolt that struck us and we were driven to have guitars, to write songs, to be in a band and get up on stage and to just turn it up. We had the work ethic of go get 'em and to not take no. We just went and did it."
Wilson also fondly remembered her childhood music store. "There was a little music store I could walk to called Band Stand East near Seattle; it was a mom-and-pop," she said. "They had really good guitars and I got to hang around and play them."
Wilson is celebrated as one of the seminal musicians in the history of rock 'n' roll from an era when female-fronted acts were scarce. Nancy and sister Ann helped carve out a place for women on the stage and at the top of the charts in the multi-platinum rock group HEART. An ingenious guitar player, gifted vocalist, and songwriter, she has co-written a collection of unforgettable songs that have earned their way into the classic rock canon, including "Magic Man", "Crazy on You", "Barracuda" and "Straight On".
Nancy has also built a successful career as a film composer. Her composing credits include scores for top-grossing films, including "Say Anything..." , "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Vanilla Sky" and "Elizabethtown", for which she has received several critic nominations.
The "Music for Life" award is NAMM's highest honor and recognizes individuals or organizations that exemplify NAMM's vision of music making as a precious element of daily living for everyone. Past recipients have included business leaders, public officials, and musicians, including Graham Nash, Stevie Wonder, Yoko Ono, Henry Mancini, Smokey Robertson, Robbie Robertson and, in 2018, Bob Weir. It is awarded each January during the global music products gathering, The NAMM Show, held in Anaheim, California.