Ann Wilson showcases new music on Stars Align tour
Ann Wilson has plenty of laurels, but no intention of resting on them.
Beginning in the 1970s, her powerful voice propelled Heart to 20 Top 40 singles, seven Top 10 albums and four Grammy nominations, along with induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
The summer of 2018 finds the 68-year-old on the road again, opening for guitar legend Jeff Beck and veteran rock singer Paul Rodgers on the Stars Align tour.
Stars Align, sans Rodgers, will come to Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh on Aug. 11.
From a July 25 stop in St. Louis, Wilson warned fans not to expect much in the way of Heart oldies. Her set showcases songs from “Immortal,” her new album due out Sept. 14.
“I’m not compelled to do the old stuff. I’ve only been doing one Heart song,” she says. “I’ve been getting an amazing reaction to the new material.”
The new material covers songs from an eclectic list of “artists recently departed,” she says, including Tom Petty, George Michael, Leonard Cohen, Amy Winehouse and others.
“They’re artists who influenced me, music I really loved, songs that are relevant to the modern day, songs that give me chills,” she says.
“Immortal” leads off with “You Don’t Own Me,” pop singer Lesley Gore’s 1963 emancipation proclamation with lyrics warning a boyfriend, “Don’t tell me what to do/Don’t tell me what to say/And please when I go out with you/Don’t put me on display.”
“It’s relevant not just to women, but to the LGBTQ community — or anyone standing up today asking for respect,” she says.
Another cut with a new relevance, she says, is David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans,” from the 1997 album “Earthling.”
“The version I did is not as playful as Bowie’s,” she says. “I was looking for a take on America from someone who’s not American. It’s asking us to take a look at ourselves.”
All about the music
Wilson says that, when she was approached by Beck and Rodgers to join their tour, “I said yes right away. I’ve admired Jeff Beck since I was a kid, and I’ve always admired Paul Rodgers, too.”
What the Pittsburgh audience can expect, she says, is “a quality show that’s all about the music. There’s not a lot of high tech effects; it’s just about the music.”
Because Rodgers will not be present in Pittsburgh (“he has another gig that night”), Wilson says she’ll have the opportunity to do a set longer than her regular 45 minutes.
After Stars Align wraps up Aug. 26 in Tampa, Wilson says she’ll continue to do shows to support “Immortal” at least through early 2019.
After that, there should be some new songs coming, though whether she’ll tour again solo or with her longtime band remains to be seen. Since its last tour in 2016, Heart has been on what Wilson and her sister and bandmate Nancy Wilson have called a hiatus.
“I’m always writing — a writer always writes,” she says. “We’ll see what happens next.”
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @shirley_trib.