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  Phyllis Hyman 
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Click below for a Phyllis Hyman sample: 

Love Surrounds Us Everywhere (with McCoy Tyner)

Tonight You And Me



 

One of the greatest voices of her time, Phyllis Hyman did not have many blockbuster hits, but her dedicated fan base reveres her as a True Diva deserving of wider recognition.

Hyman was born in Pittsburgh and started her career in Philadelphia.  After moving to New York, she was approached by jazz musician Norman Connors, who had started recording soul music using a stable of vocalists that included Jean Carne and Michael Henderson. Hyman was featured on his 1976 version of “Betcha By Golly Wow,” an outstanding performance that led to a contract with Buddah.

Her first two albums announced her as a major talent, but Buddah had a difficult time developing her artistry, a problem Hyman would encounter throughout her career.  Although she preferred sophisticated ballads with jazzy overtones, labels envisioned her as a singer with crossover potential and pushed her towards pop, soul and even disco, resulting in often schizophrenic albums.   This fight for creative autonomy would become a defining characteristic of her time with Arista, which assumed her contract when Buddah went out of business.

Although she had moderate hits with “You Know How To Love Me” and “Can’t We Fall In Love Again,” during the early 1980s Hyman was most comfortable performing in Sophisticated Ladies, the Broadway tribute to Duke Ellington.  Her renditions of classic jazz numbers like “In A Sentimental Mood” earned her a Tony Award nomination in 1981.  But Arista failed to seize on this momentum, waiting until 1983 to issue Goddess Of Love, generally considered to be her worst album.

Relations between Hyman and label executives degenerated to the point that she stopped recording for them, and Arista soon began devoting their resources to the up-and-coming Whitney Houston, who was seen as easier to work with.

Hyman spent the next four years contributing guest vocals to other projects (most notably McCoy Tyner), amassing a sizable catalog of unreleased recordings, and waiting to be freed from her contract.  In 1987 she returned to her Philadelphia roots and released Living All Alone on Philadelphia International.  The album was a stark contrast to Goddess Of Love, as Hyman expressed her true range with well-written songs like “Living All Alone,” “You Just Don’t Know,” and “Old Friend,” one of the last songs written by Linda Creed.  The album was also one of the first to hint at the emotional and mental health issues Hyman was dealing with.

These issues became more pronounced in the next few years, leading to another four year period of silence before Prime Of My Life.  Stunningly, the album showcased Hyman at her commercial peak, powered by “Don’t Wanna Change The World,” which was just the kind of material she hated to sing, an emotionally empty dancefloor cut that nonetheless became her only number one single.   The pained “Living In Confusion” was an indication that all was not well, as the combined weight of alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and the deaths of her mother and grandmother started to overwhelm her.

While recording I Refuse To Be Lonely, Hyman committed suicide before a concert at the Apollo Theatre on June 30, 1995, leaving behind a note that simply stated “I’m tired.” 

Iin 2007, Jason A. Michael published the first biography of Phyllis Hyman, Strength Of A Woman: the Phyllis Hyman Story.  You can purchase the book at www.phyllishymanstory.com.
  
             
Phyllis Hyman's Deepest Grooves

Phyllis Hyman (Buddah, 1977)

Somewhere In My Lifetime (Arista, 1978)

You Know How To Love Me (Arista, 1979)

Can't We Fall In Love Again (Arista, 1981)

Goddess Of Love (Arista, 1983)

Living All Alone (Philadelphia International, 1987)

Prime of My Life (Philadelphia International, 1991)

I Refuse To Be Lonely (Philadelphia International, 1995)

The Legacy Of Phylils Hyman (Arista, 1996)
Thanks to growing recognition of her immense talents, there are now more Phyllis Hyman compilations than original albums.  Of the more than a dozen packages available, this was the first and the most comprehensive, featuring material from each stage of her career.

In Between The Heartaches (Expansion, 2003)
Outstanding collection of alternate takes, unreleased songs, and long-out-of-print collaborations with Grover Washington Jr, Pharoah Sanders, and McCoy Tyner assembled by manager and friend Michael Grimaldi.  Although the songs are from a variety of sources, this stands as perhaps Hyman's best album.  

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