Following the release of Heart's critically acclaimed album, Beautiful Broken and last year's headlining tour with fellow Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Joan Jett and The Blackhearts and Cheap Trick, Ann Wilson decided it was time to spread her wings for a while.
Kicking off March 8 in Wilson’s hometown of Seattle, the legendary vocalist and her solo band, Ann Wilson Of Heart, will embark on a new 20-date tour with stops that include Los Angeles, Denver, Philadelphia and New Orleans among others.
The Ann Wilson of Heart tour promises an eclectic mix of music from Wilson’s storybook career. Included will be timeless songs from her years with her sister Nancy in Heart, as well selections from her work as a solo artist and what’s best described as iconic, soul stirring covers that have been the driving force in the singer’s life.
AXS recently spoke with Ann Wilson about her new tour and more in this exclusive interview.
AXS: How big of a role did music play in your house growing up?
Ann Wilson: It played a huge role. My parents were really musical people. They didn’t play professionally, but they both loved music and it was always on in the house. All different kinds. They just liked anything that was good. It wasn’t much of a stretch to start being a musician in that family.
AXS: What inspired your new Ann Wilson of Heart tour?
AW: As a singer and a creative person I really wanted to stretch out. We’ve been touring constantly for most of this century and I just felt the need to get out of the “Heart” box and do something different. So I’m about to embark on a yearlong tour with my band. It’s a show that will be in theaters because I’ve designed it so that it’s beautiful and needs those types of venues for the video wall and production. We’re going to do some Heart songs, some of my new songs and some covers that have inspired me both as a singer and person over the course of my life.
AXS: What is it about the live performance that appeals to you?
AW: I’ve got to admit, it’s kind of a high. You have a chance every performing day to get up to this super-high level of energy and focus, and then you go on stage and do a bunch of songs the best you possibly can. If you succeed, it’s like you’ve successfully walked across a tightrope. You feel reenergized, fulfilled and oxygenated. It’s a very good feeling as well as a personal connection with people.
AXS: What can you tell me about your band?
AW: Craig Bartok from Heart is on guitar. The other guys are Denny Fongheiser, who is a fantastic drummer and monster percussionist; Daniel Walker from Seattle on keyboards and Andy Stoller (also from Seattle) on bass. It’s a lean, mean, high-level band of players that have bonded like brothers. It’s very cool.
AXS: Heart recently performed at The Royal Albert Hall in London. What was that experience like?
AW: It was little bit nerve wracking because it was the first show of our tour of England, but once we got going it was surreal. It’s a beautiful place and when you look around you can’t believe what you’re seeing with all of the tradition and history. Then you add in The Royal Philharmonic and it was just fantastic!
AXS: 40 years ago, Heart released its sophomore album, Little Queen. Was there a sense of added pressure during those sessions of having to try and top the success of Dreamboat Annie?
AW: Oh, yes. They always say that you get your whole life to make your first record, and then you when it’s time to make your sophomore record you’ve got six weeks [laughs]. Everybody’s always watching and the record company that signed you is going, “Come on, come on, we don’t hear it yet.” So there was a ton of pressure around that. But we were young and idealistic and just said we made the album we wanted and no one got to advise us. And when it was done we said take it or leave it.
AXS: Did you and Nancy always know music would be your calling?
AW: I knew it from about age sixteen and was pretty much into it the whole time. Nancy took a while because she wanted to do a traditional University first. I went to a little art college after high school and she went off for a few years to University. She didn’t think she was going to be a musician but once she started doing it she fell in love with it.
AXS: Of all the highlights of your career is there anything that stands out to you as special or most memorable?
AW: There have been so many instances of things that have been incredible. The Kennedy Center Honors was a wonderful night. I’ll never forget that because the President was in the house and so many other incredible people. The Rock Hall induction ceremony was another surreal and memorable moment. We’ve had some pretty great high spots.
Ann Wilson of Heart 2017 Tour Dates
March 8: Seattle, WA - Moore Theatre
March 10: Berkeley, CA - UC Theatre
March 12: Los Angeles, CA - Wiltern Theatre
March 14: Aspen, CO - Belly Up
March 15: Denver, CO - Paramount Theatre
March 16: Salina, KS - Steifel Theatre for the Performing Arts
March 18: Lake Charles, LA - Golden Nugget
March 19: New Orleans, LA - House of Blues
March 20: Wilmington, NC - Cape Fear Community College Theatre
March 22: Charleston, SC - Charleston Music Hall
March 23: Greenville, SC - Peace Center for the Creative Arts
March 25: Morristown, NJ - Mayo Performing Arts Center
March 26: Annapolis, MD - Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts
March 29: Alexandria, VA - The Birchmere
March 30: Westbury, NY - The Westbury Theater
April 1: Peekskill, NY - Paramount Hudson Valley
April 2: Londonderry, NH - Tupelo Music Hall
April 4: Englewood, NJ - Bergen Performing Arts Center
April 6: Philadelphia, PA - Keswick Theatre (Click here for tickets)
April 7: Providence, RI - Park Theatre PAC