Interview: Ann Wilson Reflects on Heart’s Remarkable Year
or Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, the last 12 months have been a ride. Last December, jaws dropped during their show-stopping rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony with Jason Bonham on drums (with the surviving Zep members and President Obama in the audience, no less).
A few months later, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where they reunited with the band’s original members, and they also jammed with fellow Seattle-ites Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains. They spent the summer on the road with Jason Bonham, playing a show that included a full set of Zep classics. They recently released a holiday single — the A-side features Ann with Aaron Neville singing “Please Come Home For Christmas” and the B-side is Nancy doing the traditional Irish song “All Through The Night” featuring Richard Marx on backing vocals.
Tomorrow (December 12) they’ll perform a Christmas concert at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall with some big-name friends: Sammy Hagar, Shawn Colvin, Richard Marx and Train’s Pat Monahan, which will air on Christmas. Radio.com recently spoke with Ann about the band’s unforgettable year.
How did you get together with Aaron Neville for “Please Come Home For Christmas?”
You know, ever since I was a teenager when “Tell It Like It Is” came out, I’ve been such a fan of his, and his sweet, soulful voice. He really has a gift. We’ve become friends over the years, but we’ve never gotten to sing together until now. Just one more thing in this year that has been unbelievable for me!
How do you approach doing an iconic song like that?
You just find the right key, the one that just feels really good on your voice. For me, that’s usually what does it.
Tell me about the Christmas show.
We are going to have a bunch of special guests, unfortunately not Aaron because he’s on tour, but we’ll have Shawn Colvin and Richard Marx and Sammy Hagar and Pat Monahan. Plus, we’ll have a gospel choir with us, it’s gonna be awesome. We’re gonna mix it up, it’s a holiday show, so there will be holiday songs, but it’s also a Heart show. But it isn’t going to be a Heart show that you’ve ever seen before. It’s a little bit more theatrical than most of our shows, it’s at Benaroya hall. It’s gonna be a gorgeous night.
An obvious highlight for you this year was the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction. Chris Cornell made a pretty great speech.
Well, I think that’s about the most I’ve ever heard Chris talk, we’ve been friends for a long time, he’s kind of quiet. It was really great. I love Chris, he’s such a deep soul, it meant so much to hear that coming from him. He’s a really thoughtful and deep person. It was awesome.
So now that you’re a Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer, you get to vote for next year’s induction class. Who is going to be on your ballot?
I would definitely vote for Peter Gabriel. And Deep Purple: they were definitely an influence to bands of our generation.
Heart’s concert – “Heart & Friends: Home For The Holidays” – will air on December 25 at 8 pm ET on AXS TV. Get more info on the broadcast here.
– Brian Ives, Radio.com