Ann Wilson of Heart to make stop in Denver

By Jen Mulson Updated: March 10, 2017 at 11:51 am • Published: March 8, 2017 0

8 p.m. Wednesday, Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place, Denver, $34.50-$89.50; 1-866-461-6556, altitudetickets.com

Ann and Nancy Wilson are indisputable trail blazers in the music industry.

During a time when women were nowhere to be found in the annals of rock and roll, the sisters, better known as the Seattle rock band Heart, destroyed the status quo. They bounced onto the scene in the 1970s with hits including "Crazy on You," "Magic Man" and "Barracuda" - all still staples of radio station play lists today.

In the '80s and '90s they stayed in the game with singles such as "These Dreams," "Alone" and "What About Love." Altogether the band sold more than 35 million albums over the past four decades.

"When I first started there was no precedent for women in rock," said Ann Wilson, 66, from her home in Florida. "When we came in we didn't have any rules to follow so we made our own. Back then it was all about radio play. There was an unspoken rule among disc jockeys to only play one woman per hour. So if Joan Baez had a single out you were out of luck."

Wilson's "Ann Wilson of Heart" tour will make a stop Wednesday at Paramount Theatre in Denver.

Her solo show will be a departure from the typical Heart concert. Sure, there's still her big soprano voice many music critics have deemed as one of the best in the business and some old Heart songs revisited, but there'll also be new blues folk material and covers of songs that have inspired her over the years by bands such as Jimi Hendrix, Peter Gabriel and Buffalo Springfield.

"It's mostly about me as a singer and reaching out in different ways," she said.

As the Wilson sisters climbed their way to success, they refused to capitulate to repeated requests such as posing in lingerie and other hyper-sexualized stunts. It was never even an option for the two who were raised by a feminist mother who taught them "trashy lingerie was beneath us," Wilson said.

They easily resisted the pressure, Wilson said, and instead proved their mettle by showing up, doing the work and doing it well and ignoring the sexist comments.

Though progress has been made in the industry, she believes, women still face some of the same challenges they tussled with.

"The cheesecake factor is still very high," Wilson said. "A lot of times girls and women will think that by prancing around exhibiting their sexuality that's going to get them a career in music, and that may temporarily but it's just going to be temporary.

"If they want a real career they're going to have to be just as good as any man and there's no way to take what men have done and apply it to themselves.

"They have to carve their own parallel universe."

Wilson hopes both women and men take away a message from Heart's success.

"I think the message we've found and what we like to be remembered for is that neither sex trumps the other," she said. "They're at their most powerful when they work together. We just wanted to get 50 percent. That's all.

"Women in the world underestimate their power."

JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM

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