Ann Dustin Wilson (born June 19, 1950) is an American musician, best known as the lead singer and songwriter of the hard rock band Heart. Regarded as one of the best female vocalists in rock music history, Wilson was listed as one of the "Top Heavy Metal Vocalists of All Time" by Hit Parader magazine in 2006. Wilson has a soprano vocal range.
Ann Dustin Wilson was born in San Diego, California. Her father was a major in the U.S. Marine Corps. Due to her father's military career, the Wilson family moved frequently. They lived near American military facilities in Panama and Taiwan before settling in Seattle, Washington, in the early 1960s. In order to maintain a sense of home no matter where in the world they were residing, the Wilsons turned to music. "On Sunday we'd have pancakes and opera," her sister Nancy Wilson recalled. "My dad would be conducting in the living room. We'd turn it way up and rock. There was everything from classical music to Ray Charles, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, bossa nova, and early experimental electronic music."
Wilson's family eventually settled in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle, Washington. In 1968, she graduated from Sammamish High School. Shy because of a stutter, Wilson sought fulfillment in music. In the early 1970s she joined a local band, White Heart, which changed its name to Hocus Pocus, and then in 1974, to Heart.
In 1973, her younger sister Nancy joined Heart, and the band moved to Canada. Heart recorded their first album Dreamboat Annie in Vancouver in 1975; it was released in the United States in 1976, with "Crazy on You" hitting No. 35 on the US charts. In 1977, Little Queen was released, and in 1978, Dog & Butterfly. In 1992, Wilson appeared on Alice in Chains' EP Sap; she sang on "Brother", "Am I Inside" and "Love Song". In 1993, Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley contributed to vocals on "Ring Them Bells," a Bob Dylan cover from Heart's album Desire Walks On. In addition, Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez and touring guitarist Scott Olson appeared on Heart's 2003 release Alive in Seattle.
The Wilson sisters started a recording studio, Bad Animals, in Seattle in the mid-1990s. They formed a side band, The Lovemongers, which performed "The Battle of Evermore" on the 1992 soundtrack to the Cameron Crowe (Nancy's then husband) movie Singles, and later released a four-song EP. The Lovemongers' debut album Whirlygig was released in 1997.
Wilson joined producer Alan Parsons in the 2001 live tribute tour to Beatles music called A Walk Down Abbey Road.
In 2006, Wilson began recording her first solo album, Hope & Glory, produced by Ben Mink, and released by the Rounder (Zoe) Music Group on September 11, 2007. Hope & Glory features guest appearances from Elton John, k.d. lang, Alison Krauss, Gretchen Wilson, Shawn Colvin, Rufus Wainwright, Wynonna Judd and Deana Carter. Nancy also contributed. Three singles were released from the project, "Little Problems, Little Lies", "Isolation" and "Immigrant Song". That same year, Ann and her sister, Nancy, were on stage for a series of concerts in Las Vegas.
The Hope & Glory version of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" which is available on Wilson's official MySpace page charted as "the No. 9 most podcasted song of 2007" on the PMC Top10's annual countdown.
On November 22, 2012, Wilson sang an original arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner", accompanied by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, at the beginning of the Thanksgiving Day football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Composer Gary Fry created the arrangement specifically for its premiere performance by Wilson and the DSO.
On July 13, 2015, Wilson announced a solo tour, The Ann Wilson Thing, which began on September 21. She released her first EP, The Ann Wilson Thing! – #1, digitally on September 18.
On July 22, 2016, Wilson announced the release of the second EP from The Ann Wilson Thing!. The EP is titled 'focus', and Wilson will play a Florida mini-tour in September 2016 as The Ann Wilson Thing! in support of this release.
During the 1970s, Wilson was in a relationship with Michael Fisher, the manager of Heart, while her younger sister Nancy was involved with lead guitarist Roger Fisher, Michael's younger brother. Both couples controlled the band. In 1979, the relationships ended; Ann stated that Michael had fallen in love with another woman and they parted.
Wilson adopted her daughter Marie in 1991 and her son Dustin in 1998.
As a child, Wilson was bullied for being overweight. She revealed that in the 1970s and into the early 1980s she would starve herself to stay thin. By the time Heart made a comeback in the mid-1980s, Wilson had gained a significant amount of weight. Fearing that Heart's lead singer's obesity would compromise the band's image, record company executives and band members began pressuring her to lose weight. In music videos, camera angles and clothes were often used to minimize her size, and more focus was put on her svelte, sister, Nancy. Ann stated she began suffering from stress-related panic attacks due to the negative publicity surrounding her girth. She underwent a weight-loss surgery called "adjustable gastric band" in January 2002 after what she calls "a lifelong battle" with her weight.
In the band's 2012 autobiography, Wilson revealed her past struggles with cocaine and alcoholism. She stated she has been sober since 2009.
Wilson married Dean Wetter in April 2015. The pair dated briefly in the 1980s before rekindling their relationship years later.