As Heart vocalist Ann Wilson and her guitarist sister Nancy are pursuing solo projects in 2017, Ann’s tour hitting Berkeley this week bills her as “Ann Wilson of Heart.” But she calls herself The Ann Wilson Thing! on her latest EP “Focus,” which includes covers of Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” and the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush duet “Don’t Give Up.” She explains the exclamation mark: “Because it’s exciting! It’s to show that it’s in the moment, it’s fun, it’s right now. It isn’t some dreary thing — it’s got energy behind it.”
Your solo project gives you new leeway to do covers, right?
Yeah. And the covers are almost my favorite part. I was born and raised a bar-song singer by my parents. First, old English pub songs, then folk songs, then everybody else’s songs, and then finally — in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s — the songs that we had written ourselves. But those first things I learned on are what really inspired me, and it’s so fun to do. It’s just so satisfying, and a great exercise for me as a singer.
And lately, you’ve been doing some amazing duets, like with James Hetfield on Heart’s last album “Beautiful Broken,” and doing a version of “Stairway to Heaven” that made Robert Plant cry at the Kennedy Center.
I think if you hang around long enough, you’re going to see some amazing things that you never would have been able to accept when you were younger. You just get more…more fluid. You just get more accepting, I think. Except for those people who get more crystallized and hardened. But I’m certainly not one of those.
In a conversation with chef Anthony Bourdain, Iggy Pop recently summed up the artistic impulse in one word – curiosity. And Bourdain wholeheartedly agreed.
Yeah. That’s a really good answer. And I think that curiosity and fear might be enemies. So if you’re scared, scared to go to the dark edge of the abyss and look over, you’re sure as hell not going to be an artist, like Iggy Pop or Anthony Bourdain.
What lessons do you live by?
Mindfulness. Always go back and really look, really see. Don’t just go, “Oh, yeah, that’s a really nice thing. But now what’s on CNN?” Every morning when I wake up, I’ve got a mirror in my little yoga room, right off my bedroom, and when the sun is hitting that mirror just right, I’ve got all these streaks of spectral light on the wall. That’s the first thing I see in the morning. And I’m like, “OK, I can get out of bed today!”
IF YOU GO
Ann Wilson of Heart
Where: UC Theatre, 2036 University Ave., Berkeley
When: 8 p.m. March 10