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She Forever With Us. Celebrating the life of Phyllis Hyman!
Phyllis Hyman (July 6, 1949 – June 30, 1995)
Phyllis Hyman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the St. Clair Village, the South Hills section of Pittsburgh. Born to an African American family, she was the eldest of seven children and a third cousin of actor Earle Hyman (best known for his recurring role on TV's The Cosby Show as Cliff's father, Russell Huxtable). After leaving Pittsburgh, her music training started at a music school.
Phyllis Hyman began her career as a silky voiced, jazz-influenced singer and gradually moved into slick, heavily produced urban contemporary ballads and light dance numbers. Hyman won a scholarship to music school and then began her professional career with the group New Direction in 1971. When they disbanded after a national tour, Hyman joined the Miami ensemble All the People. She also worked there with another local group, the Hondo Beat, and appeared in the film Lenny. That was followed by a two-year stint heading Phyllis Hyman & the P/H Factor, before relocating to New York. Hyman did background vocals on Jon Lucien’s Premonition LP and built her reputation performing in New York clubs. Hyman was discovered in 1975 by internationally known pop artist and music industry veteran Sid Maurer, and former Epic Records promoter Fred Frank, and signed to their Roadshow Records/Desert Moon imprint.
Norman Connors made her his featured vocalist in the mid-’70s, and she was highlighted on a cover of the Stylistics‘ “Betcha By Golly Wow,” which appeared on Connors’ You Are My Starship LP. Hyman also sang with Pharaoh Sanders & the Fatback Band while cutting two singles as a lead artist. Buddah released Phyllis Hyman in 1977, but she really began making an impression when she was signed by Arista the next year. The songs “Somewhere in My Lifetime” and “You Know How to Love Me” both made the R&B Top 20. Hyman got her lone Top Ten hit in 1981 with “Can’t We Fall in Love Again,” but her albums did consistently well through the ’80s.
The production teams of Mtume/Reggie Lucas and Narada Michael Walden/Thom Bell gave her material that showcased her skill with sophisticated ballads. Hyman had more success when she left Arista for Philadelphia International in 1986, with the single “Living All Alone” putting her back in the R&B Top 20. She also sang on fusion and light jazz dates by Joe Sample, Ronnie Foster, and Grover Washington, Jr., a more conventional jazz session for McCoy Tyner, and a pop date with the Four Tops.
On the afternoon of June 30, 1995, Hyman committed suicide by overdosing on pentobarbital and secobarbital in her New York City apartment. She was found unconscious hours before she was scheduled to perform at the Apollo Theater with Whispers and I was at this concert and I like the rest of the audience was simply SHOCKED and saddened. She died 3 hours later at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital. Her suicide note read in part: "I'm tired. I'm tired. Those of you that I love know who you are. May God bless you” She was 45 years old. A memorial service was held at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Manhattan. The following week would have been her 46th birthday. Her Last 2 CD’s “I Refuse To Be Lonely” and “Forever With You” was issued posthumously.
Lets take a walk down Memory Lane…shall we?...ENJOY!
But Phyllis lives on in her music. She is Forever with us!