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Ann, Nancy Wilson in harmony on next Heart album

 Ann (L) and Nancy Wilson of Heart perform at the
Ann (L) and Nancy Wilson of Heart perform at the 'Idol Gives Back' show at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California April 6, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
— image credit: Reuters

By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rock 'n' roll sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart have been making music together for more than 30 years, but they have rarely shared the vocal spotlight.

Ann did most of the singing, while guitarist Nancy occasionally contributed backing vocals. The formula served them well, producing such classic-rock chestnuts as "Barracuda" and "Crazy on You."

But things will be a little different for the group's next album, on which they are currently working. Nancy will take a greater share of the vocal duties as the sisters experiment more with harmonies.

"It's just a way of reinventing, and having more fun, and taking some of the pressure off of Ann as a singer," her younger sister said in a recent interview with Reuters.

"As you probably can imagine, her voice is really a gift from above. It's an instrument like few others. To couch a vocal style together more would be something fresh and new and more fun. Harmony singing is my favorite thing to do in music!"

Wilson described her vocal style as "more limited," although she has sung lead on a handful of tunes including the 1985 chart-topping power ballad "These Dreams." The sisters also notably traded off each other on their cover of Led Zeppelin's "Battle of Evermore."

"I love singing, and whenever I can sing some more vocal leads I always covet the chance. But it's always got to be the perfect fit for a voice like mine," she said.

LABEL WOES

The Wilsons are taking their time with the album, but hope it will come out in the summer of 2010. The last Heart album, "Jupiters Darling," was released independently in 2004 after the band ended a lengthy stint at Capitol, and quickly disappeared from rock music.

"There was no clout and there was no real thrust behind it (the record) after we'd worked so hard," Wilson said. "We're just really looking skeptically at all the (label) options right now."

So far, they have recorded about eight songs, and will return to the studio in a few weeks with producer Ben Mink, who is best known as k.d. lang's collaborator.

Wilson described the songs so far as "very personal, very honest, vital ... not always super-serious either. But quite romantic. Leaning toward poetic as hard as we can!"

Perhaps like many other musicians, it's hard for the Wilsons to escape the nagging feeling that all the hard work in the studio might be for naught given that few people seem to buy albums anymore. In moments of self-doubt, Wilson has to remind herself of the therapeutic benefits of music.

"I've been through a lot of heartache in my day, and you turn to music to prop yourself up. It's a healing thing, and it's a powerful, powerful, beautiful thing. I like my job. I'll work my butt off to do something well."

To that end, the Wilsons and their four-person band maintain a vigorous touring schedule. A co-headlining tour with Journey is scheduled to begin in July.

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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