Heart spent a long time trying before they made it big. Their roots go back to 1963-64, the same time many other giants of classic rock were forming. They didn't have the advantage of a TV show where young people could karaoke their ways to instant stardom, which is kind of ironic because their songs are picked by female vocalists on all the singing shows. Their decade of starving artistry before their album Dreamboat Annie, with the songs "Magic Man" and "Crazy on You," carved them a spot in rock and roll history.
I was going to say Anne and Nancy Wilson are at the heart of the band, but I couldn't bring myself to go there. They are the core of the group, through. Other session musicians have played with them, but it's Nancy's guitar and, most especially, Anne's vocals that drive their music.
Anne Wilson's voice is amazing. Her range is vast, and she makes it sounds effortless. The range is what draws so many young Idol-wannabes to try and cover her, and the effort they have to throw behind the singing is what brings many of them down. Very few can do it.
I used to play in a band with a singer who could, though. We covered "Barracuda," which is a tricky song, musically. The odd time signatures and tight changes elevate this from a jamming groove to a tight-knight ride, and guitar / bass / drums must be in sync to pull it off...and even then, without a good singer, there is no song. When we played with Catherine, she could just step to the mic, open her mouth, and her voice went there, no different than regular breathing. Those were some great gigs.