Don’t expect to hear Ann Wilson sing a set full of Heart songs Sunday when the Stars Align Tour with Wilson, Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers makes a stop at PNC Music Pavilion.
While she does throw one or two classics in each set, Wilson is enjoying singing other artists’ songs these days. In fact, her upcoming solo album, “Immortal” consists of songs by 10 artists who died in recent years.
“We had so many artists that were dying within a five-year period, I thought it would be fantastic to honor them in some way,” Wilson says, calling from a tour stop in Cincinnati. “I chose the ones I wanted to honor and went through and found the songs I related to.”
What fans may find interesting is Wilson didn’t always go for the obvious choice. Instead of “Free Falling,” she does Tom Petty’s lesser known “Luna.” And while Amy Winehouse’s “Back in Black” and the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” made the cut, she chose more obscure tracks by David Bowie and George Michael.
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“I just thought it wouldn’t be as meaningful to go through and do the hits,” she says. “I wanted to go through the bodies of work of these other artists and find the songs that meant the most to me.”
She found herself discovering songs she hadn’t heard before while delving into catalogs by Audioslave, Linkin Park and the Cranberries (the latter two didn’t make the cut).
“I discovered a lot about Bowie’s work I hadn’t been aware of. Glenn Frey was a little harder. ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ was still my favorite,” she says.
Not all the covers she sings live are from the album though. Wilson’s been throwing in songs by the Who, Yes and the Black Crowes on occasion.
“It’s hugely fun,” she says. “It allows me a feeling of liberation. I get to stretch my wings and do whatever I want.”
Since a rift arose between Wilson and her sister (and Heart cofounder) Nancy, Ann has been touring as Ann Wilson of Heart, while Nancy started a new band, Roadcase Royale, with former Prince protégé Liz Warfield.
Despite Heart’s indefinite hiatus, Ann Wilson seems to be reveling in going it alone onstage where she sings the still timely Lesley Gore anthem, “You Don’t Own Me” each night.
“It’s about so much more than female empowerment,” she says. “There’s so many people now in all different parts of culture identifying themselves and asking for respect. There are a lot of people who are trying to have a dialogue about diversity.”
The current swell generated by #metoo is something she says she’s seen slowly percolating in her own industry for years.
“There’s been a steady underground movement of women coming into all positions of power – the increasing number of female promoters, attorneys, managers, booking agents, record company execs has moved right alongside the influx of women artists. It’s not going to be one big ‘wake up and find everything 50/50.’ It’s a slow gradual process. I don’t know why, except that in a big industry that has been male-dominated they have systems down that work among men. To have women coming in bringing new ideas threatens the old way. They don’t just give stuff up easily.”
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd.