Heart’s Ann Wilson to preview ‘Immortals’ songs at Belly Up Aspen
IF YOU GO …
What: An Evening with Ann Wilson of Heart
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Sunday, July 15, 9 p.m.
How much: $80-$290
Tickets: Belly Up box office; bellyupaspen.com
As a string of beloved singers, songwriters and rock stars died over the past few years, the rock legend and Heart lead singer Ann Wilson was struck and saddened as any fan.
“I personally felt some kind of exodus going on,” she said from a recent vacation on the coast of Washington. “Especially after Tom Petty and Chris Cornell died so close together.”
Cornell, who died of suicide last year, was a close friend. Other recently deceased artists — like Tom Petty, Leonard Cohen and David Bowie — she didn’t know personally but, like millions of listeners, she had a deep a relationship with their work.
“I thought, ‘I have to do something,’” she recalled. “And the best thing I felt I could do, because I’m not personally into mourning and when souls depart I think it’s best to wish them on their way than to be whiny about it, would be to resurrect some of their expressions and honor them that way.”
So Wilson went into the studio and started recording their songs. Cohen’s “A Thousand Kisses Deep,” Cornell’s Audioslave track “I Am the Highway,” Petty’s “Luna,” Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans” along with compositions like Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” and George Michael’s “A Different Corner.” In September, she’ll release an album of these tributes titled “Immortal.”
She’ll preview some of her versions Sunday in a solo set at Belly Up Aspen.
“I chose the songs that I thought I could relate to the best,” she said. “They aren’t the biggest hits. Mostly they’re the songs that speak to me the most. And they feel relevant now.”
Though her record label would prefer she wait to showcase these songs until the album is on sale, the irrepressible Wilson can’t resist.
“People always have their cellphones in the air, and then those versions go on YouTube and they’re not special when the album comes out,” she said. “But I feel like, here’s a song, here’s an audience, here’s a band. Let’s just play them.”
Wilson, of course, also will be playing a handful of songs from Heart, the trailblazing Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band behind “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man,” “Barracuda” and other classics. As the original standard bearer for women in hard rock, Wilson is pleased with the momentum of the #MeToo movement and push toward rooting out harassment and fighting for equal pay and equal rights for women.
“Hopefully the #MeToo movement, in all its young and recklessness, will be able to bring the true idea of equality of the genders,” she said. “We don’t need one gender to rule over the other. And that means women shouldn’t rule other men, either. True equality is 50-50. If it takes women saying, ‘No, you can’t touch me,’ then that’s what it has to be until everybody realizes we’re all in this together.”
A rock band, she argues, is a model for that 50-50 ideal.
“I’ve always believed that bands are a little microcosm of the rest of society,” she said. “It’s men and women living in a space together, both genders co-existing and being the best team they can.”
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Painter Annie Decamp met the Denver-based artist Michael Dowling at a show a few years ago, and asked if he would mentor her.