Friday, March 10, 2017

Trailblazers in Black History: Phyllis Hyman

The history of modern soul music is unfortunately littered with stories of truly magnificent artists who spent much of their adult lives fighting personal demons while creating seminal music.  Phyllis Hyman is, sadly, one of those stories.  The Philadelphia native was a popular jazz club singer in New York when hot producer Norman Connors witnessed her show and pegged her to perform a cover of the Stylistics' "Betcha By Golly Wow" on his You Are My Starship album.  Her emotive, jazzy stylings melded perfectly with Connors' production, and her stunning performance resulted in her being signed by Buddah Records for a 1977 self-titled solo debut.

Her first album was a moderate success, and included a very nice cover of the Spinners' "I Don't Want To Lose You." The next year Buddah merged into Arista Records and Hyman embarked on a series of albums that scored well in the emerging urban adult contemporary format, but with little crossover success.  The material provided to her during this period was somewhat uneven, but on each album she demonstrated that she was developing into one of the finest soul vocalists in the world.  And while she was not a "singles" artist, she recorded her share of memorable radio cuts, including "You Know How to Love Me," "Riding the Tiger," "Can't We Fall In Love Again" (with Michael Henderson), and the dramatic "Somewhere In My Lifetime" (produced by, of all people, Arista stablemate Barry Manilow).  She also emerged as a fine concert performer, and became a headliner in multi-artist soul shows around the world. 

Click here for the full article. 


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