IamA Ann Wilson, lead singer of “Heart” AMA!
Hello Reddit! I am Ann Wilson, singer, songwriter, musician, from the band Heart. I’m also currently touring with my side project, the ann wilson thing.
I’m looking forward to your questions — so go ahead, ask me anything!
PHOTO PROOF: http://imgur.com/D1VoS85
Your vocals sound better and better over the years. Do you do vocal exercises? If so, are there any that are your favorites?
Thank you very much! I feel really blessed to have a body that has the stamina to withstand all the years, because the type of singing is strenuous. I usually don’t do formal exercise, but I usually sing along with someone else’s CD before I go onstage, like Emilou Harris, Alison Krause, Chris Whitley, and lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Bob Marley, and singing along.
How did it feel to rock out one of the best Stairways in front of the legends themselves?
It was really thrilling and hard to believe — very surreal.
Do you write music or lyrics first when songwriting?
Each song is different, but generally, I think the lyrics come first, and the music second. Right now Heart is working on a song where the music comes first, and it’s a whole different process… It’s a lot more complicated.
When you are not touring – how often do you sing? You have such amazing control, and command of your voice.
Thank you! I don’t spend a whole lot of time singing. I like to sing along to things I’m listening to, sometimes. But I never sing in the shower.
Black on Black II is one of my favorite Heart songs. Is there a Black on Black I? I can’t seem to find it and it’s bothering me.
Yes, there is. It’s not on a Heart album, it’s on an album by an artist named Lisa Dalbello.
What has been the best memory you have from your career so far?
Playing at the Kennedy center was a huge honor. The audience was full of so many illustrious people, it was almost too much to believe. Also, our first big arena show, opening for Rod Stewart, was very memorable.
I would like to know what has getting married later in life meant to you and how (if applicable) has it changed you as an artist?
It really has been the realization of a miracle to me. I was convinced it wasn’t going to happen to me. I had made it okay with myself, that I wasn’t going to get married. And now, I have a soulmate. It’s a stunning, astounding experience. As an artist, I’m a lot more empowered on stage. I feel strong in myself and happier in myself. They tell me I’m moving my hips more.
Do you sing along to Magic Man when it comes on the radio? Also, what was your inspiration for creating the Ann Wilson Thing?
I can say I have never sung to it on the radio… My inspiration for creating the ann wilson thing was to provide another outlet for myself and other musicians to my choosing. I also wanted to give Heart fans another place to go. And, I wanted to push myself creatively.
You being one of the top ten best rock’n’roll singers of all time. Has any body come to you telling you how you inspire them to become a musician, that you did not expected from?
The guys in Alice in Chains… There have been a few people over the years who I didn’t even think would even care about Heart, who told me I inspired them.
Do you like when fans come up to you in crowds or is it bothersome? Also, any really crazy things happen to you when a fan meeting you?
Yes, I like it when people say hello, and I also like it when they understand that I have boundaries, like anybody else. But, yeah, I like to be friendly. As long as they’re cool I’m cool…. Second question: People generally have gone through some kind of security check… but people can be really goofy, and really shaky. And I can understand that. I think I would be like that if I met somebody famous who inspired me.
Is there anyone you would still act this way about at this point in your life?
Barrack Obama, Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, and Gloria Steinem.
How did your friends/family at home react when you became really famous? I’m always interested in that aspect of fame.
Our father was really proud, and our mom was, too, but she was a little more restrained in her enthusiasm, because she had two out of three daughters going into it.
Is there a singer that has always been a vocal idol to you?
What was the first concert you ever attended?
Oh, boy. So, what I’m about to say is going to be really hard for anyone to understand except people in their 60s. Chubby Checker and Martha and Vandellas, at a movie theater in Seattle, Washington. My first big arena show was the Beatles in Seattle, in 1966.
I read a passing mention in People about you trying to seduce Dean in the 1980s and he, being a gentleman, turned you down. I want to know more! How did you guys reconnect? Do you joke about that ill-fated date in the 80s? How is married life treating you and how does Dean handle the hard core mongers/fans who now recognize him?
Hahaha! Dean’s a real gentleman, and even back then, when we were in our 30s, he was a gentleman. I didn’t know that, and was just this rock and roll chick. We went out to a Japanese restaurant, and drank a lot of sake. We went home, and I tried to seduce him, and he freaked out. Later, he sent me a card, and a pair of gloves as a gift. I sent him a card back, saying thank you for the gloves, and bye bye. We went on and lived our lives. About a year ago, we reconnected. The magnetism was so strong. We really haven’t been apart since we reconnected. See, all I had to do was wait — for 40 years…. And married life is fine, thank you!
What is your favorite album you did with Heart?
Hmm. Well, you know, I don’t base it on record sales, I base it on my experience making it. My favorite one was fanatic.
Favorite Led Zeppelin song?
The Rain Song
As Heart you guys still do a ton of old hits – are there any Heart songs from the past that you wouldn’t mind never having to sing again?
Oh, yeah! Many… I’m not going to say which ones, but when those songs come up, and they get a groan from the band, they go on the shelf for awhile.
It seems you’re always asked about Barracuda (especially after the GOP usage thing) so we know the story there- but going forward a few years – I’d love to know the story behind “Skin and Bones” from Fanatic. And is the song “Sand” from Red velvet Car about Layne Stayley?
Skin and Bones was written about a bus driver we used to have, named Jerry Don Borden, who at the time was really skinny… A big arm full of bracelets, a really good driver, and a really good friend of mine. He an I were driving across the country to meet with Heart. I just had days to write. I remember looking out the window in New Mexico or something, and saw him walking out, and he looked like an old mule out there, just skin and bones. It was a quirky ode to a buddy.
What’s your favorite food?
Rice! You can mix anything with it.
What was/is the hardest aspect of being a part of such a famous musical group?
The hardest aspect would be keeping it authentic and relevant. Keeping it real.
Can you elaborate on the East Indian influences that are so stunningly beautiful in “Heaven”?
Yeah, that song is just built on a melodic minor scale, or in other words, that’s the scale we westerners most associate with eastern sounding music. That music is built on a drone. That’s why it has that beautiful “exotic” sound to it.
I’m a 16 year old die hard fan of yours! How do you feel about the fact that your music is being passed down to younger generations and is still being enjoyed by all ages, nearly 40 years after the release of your first album?
I think that is really incredible. I love that, it makes me feel really good that people would turn their kids and grandkids to it. It’s fantastic.
How do your kids and new husband handle you being out on the road so much?
My one and only ever husband, Dean, comes out on the road with me. And when we’re not touring, we are traveling together. My oldest daughter is married and has kids of her own, so she’s used to me being on the road. My son is a senior in high school, and we don’t get to see each other enough, and that’s tough. But he handles it well.
How do you think the treatment of female artists has changed over the years?
The treatment of female artists is better, but a lot of the same old “rules” still apply. You have to be beautiful, young, and do everything guys can do, backwards and in high heels. Show business is hard because people pay what they want to see, and they don’t pay to see the “average” person. But having said that, we have some really talented women who are out there. And we have older women like myself, Annie Lennox, Joan Jett, Chrissy Hynde.
How is the tour for the Ann Wilson thing going?
Well, so far we’ve only done one show, so it’s been perfect! Haha! We’re looking forward to going to the East Coast next. It’s going to be a blast.
What is your favorite thing about performing for a large audience? What about a small audience? When we are flailing like mad women in the first two rows – do you guys actually see us? How are the audiences different for a Heart show and an Ann Wilson thing show?
the ann wilson thing audience is a much more intimate situation than those at Heart shows. the ann wilson thing experience is a much more intimate and art-orientated situation, and the Heart crowd is more rock and roll.
What’s your favorite flavor of Jellybean? Favorite candy in general?
Hmm. My favorite jelly bean flavor is lemon lime. My favorite candy is butterscotch.
Love hearing Nancy on Aint no Way…Glad you decided to keep the live version of that song on the NEW EP. I love the EP so much!” Fool no more” is a magnificent song. Are there plans to incorporate/add more original songs (vs covers) during this tour?
Thank you very much! Yeah, if we come up with them, we will definitely add them. And we will be coming out with another EP (#2) next year (we are aiming for February), which will have at least two new songs.