Photo: Jess Griffin

“When I was first learning and loving music, rock was the coolest thing around. It filled the lives of me and my friends, so much so that we had to enact it. It was cooler than boys, it was cooler than clothes, everything,” says the legendary Ann Wilson with a laugh. “It provided an outlet for those of us who wanted to write and sing and play guitars and all that kind of stuff. The pressures in American culture of being a teenage girl are incredibly hard, and it gave us a survival technique back in the 60s and 70s—it let us out and gave us something to focus on.”

Wilson, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with her band, Heart, in 2013, has one of the most iconic vocal styles in rock history; from “Crazy On You” to “Barracuda,” her voice is an indelible thread used to create the foundational and intricate tapestry of rock music. “The first challenge way back in the 70s was to be taken seriously. Back then, there was no precedent for a band owned and fronted by women,” says the rock pioneer, who has had a front row seat to the struggles and triumphs of women in the industry. “Through the years, I think you have to watch out for hidden, intrinsic for of misogyny. Even so, the concept is the same—whether it’s a business owned by men or my women—you have integrity, loyalty, and honesty, and you work your head off to get what you want. Basically, there’s no reason anymore to not have what you want,” she continues. “Being a woman is no longer a handicap in the culture. I’m very much about promoting good people in the industry, I don’t want to just focus on women. The more women separate themselves from men, that can cause weakness. When the genders can work together as equals is when we’re at our strongest—that’s what the real mothers of feminism were after,” she says. “I think they were right.”

In these days where some swear that rock n’ roll is dead, Wilson is living proof that it is here to stay. “I think people might want to go back and examine the definition of rock n’ roll. It’s not just a genre of music, it’s a rebellious state of being. It’s a way of being outside the box,” she explains. “That’s what rock n’ roll is.”

Now, Wilson is on tour, which will bring her to Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Tuesday, June 13th. “It’s not Heart, it’s my own solo thing,” she explains. “The band is four guys plus me, really stripped down, lean and mean. We’ll be playing a few Heart songs reimagined, a few original songs, and some exciting, cool covers. I made a grand, master list of songs—I wanted them all to be songs with a message that would be relevant today, that have great lyrics, and that I could really get behind singing. The set is always evolving. We’re really looking forward to the show, Nashville is the city of musicians and writers,” she continues. “It’s going to be a very different evening. It’s not just a package tour that blows through—I’m doing this for love. It’s a stimulating show; it’s a total experience for people. Every night, things get even more vital and wide awake, we never do anything the same way twice,” she adds. “It’s an exploration for us, and the response has been amazing.”

[Click HERE for tickets and show information.]

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