As the frontwomen for Heart, a band that has sold more than 35 million records, Ann and Nancy Wilson easily rank among the top rock and roll sibling acts of all time. As for the sisters category, they’d seem to have that locked up. Who’s even close? The Bangles? Tegan and Sara?
Ann, the older sister and primary vocalist, stops short of claiming the title but will allow: “There’s a good chance we might go down as the most famous blond and brunette rock and roll sisters in the late 20th and early 21st century.”
Heart plays at Hartman Arena on Wednesday. The Eagle caught up with Ann Wilson by telephone last month. Possessed of one of the most powerful and recognizable voices in popular music, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer came across as soft-spoken, modest and happy to answer questions, including several suggested by fans.
Q: What’s your favorite song to sing?
A: Well, right now we’re doing the Led Zeppelin song “No Quarter” in our set. And I really enjoy singing that.
Q: What comes first when you’re writing, the melody or music?
A: For me, the lyrics come first. But if I’m lucky, I’m working with a musician who has a groove and some melodies, and we put them right together.
Q: Have you ever had a voice lesson?
A: Yeah, I took two voice lessons in my time, back during the ’80s when I was partying a lot and doing all kinds of nasty stuff to my throat, and I was having trouble keeping my voice. So I went to (vocal coach) David Kyle in Seattle. He just tuned me up right away. He said first of all, stop what you’re doing. He gave me some warmups to do so I don’t just go out and blow it out. But mostly he warned me about lifestyle. I would pass that on to other performers, too.
Q: Has your creative approach changed as you’ve gotten older?
A: Yeah, I think I’ve gotten way more liberated and able to write about whatever I want other than what I think other people want to hear about. I just feel freer.
Q: How did it feel to perform “Stairway to Heaven” at the Kennedy Center? (Wilson sang it in 2012 as part of the Kennedy Center Honors, a performance that quickly went viral on the Internet.)
A: Oh, that was really awesome and excellent. I never thought I’d get to sing that song in that environment, especially with surviving Led Zeppelin members there and the president and the president’s wife and all the other people in the audience. There was no option to fail, so both Nancy and I just really focused and calmed ourselves down and did the best we could.
Q: Will you eat local in Wichita?
A: Well, my husband and I are pretty much into cooking for ourselves on the bus. We’re great friends of beans and rice and pico de gallo. We’re pretty much vegetarians. Sometimes we’ll go out with friends.
Q: Who else would you like to sing a duet with besides your sister?
A: I wouldn’t mind getting with Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. Yeah, those two would be nice.
Q: Will you please sing “Stairway to Heaven” in Wichita?
A: (Laughs.) We just might. I’ll talk to the rest and see what they think.
Q: How is the children’s book you wrote with your sister, “Dog & Butterfly,” doing?
A: I think it’s doing OK. I keep seeing it around in people’s houses who have kids.
Q: How have you been able to get along so long with your sister? That doesn’t always happen with siblings.
A: We do fairly well. We run a business together. Sometimes we have to decide business questions that can’t always be decided in a family way. But we do fairly well. We’re working on it. We’re trying to figure out how to each have our own way.
Q: You’re pretty active and opinionated on social media. Is that something new?
A: It’s been going on for a while. I’d say my husband (Wilson married community developer Dean Wetter in April) has been an influence on me about speaking out about how I feel. He is very much an activist, and he cares a lot about the planet, and I think I’ve been inspired to go ahead and speak directly on what I feel.
Q: You’re also doing a solo tour. Talk about The Ann Wilson Thing.
A: When Heart is not playing, and there are a bunch of days off, I’ll stick an Ann Wilson show in those slots. So I’m working two jobs, and it’s great.
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9
Where: Hartman Arena, 8151 N. Hartman Arena Dr., Park City
Tickets: $45-$65, ticketmaster.com, 800-745-3000, or Hartman Arena box office