I met Nancy Wilson many years ago through John Levy, who was the first African-American manager of talent that toured not only the country but the world. He’d already signed Cannonball Adderley and others, and he was interested in signing me. I went into his office and who should be there but a young lady. I didn’t know who she was, and John said, “I want you to meet this young lady. I’m seriously thinking about signing her. She’s going to be big. Her name is Nancy Wilson.”
He gave me a little background and obviously he had big plans for her, because he was going to send her to London to shop for dresses to wear onstage. He did sign her, and he signed me, and he felt that we would be good onstage together. After a couple of years, he booked us on dates—anywhere from 10 to 15 a year, maybe more. That put us together in dressing rooms and hotels, and we had a lot of time to spend talking. We got to know each other well, so much so that she became my daughter Dawn’s godmother. Nancy was a wonderful person. She wasn’t impressed by popularity; she wasn’t impressed by her looks. She was impressed by her ability to reach out and touch people.