Monday, September 17, 2012

Phyllis Hyman

Phyllis Hyman (born Phyllis Linda Hyman on July 6, 1949 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was a female R&B singer who started her music career in the 70's, but scored moderate hits on the R&B charts in the 80's and having her one and only #1 R&B hit in the early 90's before she sadly left this earth in 1995.

Phyllis grew up in the St. Clair Village of the South Hills section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was the eldest of 7 children and a third cousin of "The Cosby Show" actor, Earle Hyman. After leaving Pittsburgh, Phyllis started her music training at a music school.

On graduation day, she performed on a national tour with music group, New Direction in 1971. After the group broke up, Phyllis joined two more groups: All the People and the Hondo Beat. In 1974, Phyllis appeare in the movie "Lenny." She also did a two-year stint leading a band called Phyllis Hyman and the P\H Factor.

In 1975, Phyllis was discovered by pop musician\music industry veteran, Sid Maurer and former Epic Records promoter, Fred Frank & she signed to their record label, Roadshow Records\Desert Moon. She moved to New York City to work on her reputation.

While there, Phyllis provided background vocals on Jon Lucien's "Premonition" album in 1976 along with working in clubs.

In 1975, musician Norman Connors was laying tracks for his "You Are My Starship" album and couldn't get singer Jean Carne for it. After hearing about Phyllis (who was working at a club on the Upper West Side of Manhattan) after her performance at a Jon Lucien concert at Carnegie Hall, Norman offered her a spot on his 4th studio album.

After "You Are My Starship" received airplay on jazz music radio, it went gold which catapulted Phyllis' music career along with Norman Connors and singer Michael Henderson's as well.

In 1977, Norman and Phyllis' version of the Stylistics' song, "Betcha Golly By Wow!" peaked at #102 on Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart and #29 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, staying on the chart for 9 weeks.
In 1977, Phyllis released her self-titled debut album on Buddah Records, which peaked at #107 on the Billboard 200 chart and #49 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart.

During that same time, Phyllis sang with Pharoah Sanders and the Fatback Band while working on the album.
The first single from the album, "Loving You, Losing You" peaked at #103 on Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart and #32 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, staying on the chart for 12 weeks.
The follow-up single, "No One Can Love You More" peaked at #58 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, staying on the chart for 10 weeks.
In 1978, Phyllis released her second album, "Sing a Song" which didn't make the charts at all.

Shortly after the album was released, Buddha Records was sold off to Arista Records, who transferred Phyllis to their label.
In 1979, Phyllis released her third album, "Somewhere in My Lifetime" which peaked at #70 on the Billboard 200 chart and #15 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart.
The title song peaked at #12 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, staying on the chart for 16 weeks.
During that same year, Phyllis released her fourth album, "You Know How to Love Me" which peaked at #50 on the Billboard 200 chart and #10 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart.
The title song managed to peak at #12 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, staying on the chart for 21 weeks and #6 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Club Play chart. In the U.K., the song peaked at #47 on the U.K. Singles chart in March of 1980, staying on the chart for 6 weeks.
The song was re-released in 1986 and peaked at #89 on the U.K. Singles chart in September of 1986, staying on the chart for a week.

The follow-up single, "Under Your Spell" peaked at #37 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, staying on the chart for 11 weeks.

During the late 70's, Phyllis married her manager, Larry Alexander, but due to personal and professional issues, they later divorced. Around that same time, Phyllis began using cocaine which developed into a lifelong dependency.
In 1981, Phyllis released her fifth album, "Can We Fall in Love Again" which peaked at #57 on the Billboard 200 chart and #11 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart.
The title song, a duet with Michael Henderson, became Phyllis' first Top 10 hit, peaking at #9 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, staying on the chart for 15 weeks.

The song was recorded while Phyllis was performing in the Broadway musical, "Sophisticated Ladies" where she performed for almost two years. She won a Theatre World Award for "Best Newcomer" and received a Tony Award nomination for "Best Supporting Actress in a Musical."
The follow-up single from the album, "Tonight You and Me" peaked at #22 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, staying on the chart for 11 weeks and #30 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Club Play chart.
The last single to chart from the album, "You Sure Look Good to Me" peaked at #76 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart. In the U.K., the song peaked at #56 on the U.K. Singles chart in September of 1981, staying on the chart for 3 weeks.

Problems between Phyllis and Arista Records caused a pause in Phyllis' recording career. She used that time to appear on movie soundtracks, TV commercials, and guest vocals, working with artists such as Chuck Mangione, the Whispers, and the Four Tops.

She even provided vocals for three tracks on jazz pianist, McCoy Tyner's 1982 album, "Looking Out."

Phyllis toured often and even did a college lecture tour. In 1983, Phyllis recorded the song, "Never Say Never Again" as the title song for the James Bond movie of the same name, but due to legal conflicts, an alternate title song was sung by singer Lani Hall.
During that same year, Phyllis released her sixth album, "Goddess of Love" which peaked at #112 on the Billboard 200 chart, #42 on Billboard's Jazz Albums chart, and #20 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart.
The first single, "Riding the Tiger" peaked at #30 on Billboard's Black Singles chart, staying on the chart for 13 weeks.

The follow-up single, "Why Did You Turn Me On" peaked at #74 on Billboard's Black Singles chart, staying on the chart for only 4 weeks. By 1985, Phyllis was no longer signed to Arista Records.
In 1986, Phyllis released her seventh album, "Living All Alone" on Philadelphia International Records, which peaked at #78 on the Billboard 200 chart and #11 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart.
The first single from the album, "Old Friend" peaked at #14 on Billboard's Hot Black Singles chart, staying on the chart for 16 weeks.
The title song peaked at #12 on Billboard's Hot Black Singles chart, staying on the chart for 17 weeks.
The third single, "Screaming at the Moon" peaked at #83 on the U.K. Singles chart in April of 1987, staying on the chart, staying on the chart for 3 weeks.
The last single released from the album, "Ain't You Had Enough Love" peaked at #29 on Billboard's Hot Black Singles chart, staying on the chart for 12 weeks.

During that same year, Phyllis recorded the song, "Black and Blue" with Barry Manilow on his 1987 album, "Swing Street."

Shortly after that, she appeared in the films, "School Daze" and "The Kill Reflex" along with providing vocals for other artists' albums such as Lonnie Liston Smith and Grover Washington Jr. and doing international tours.
In 1991, Phyllis released her eighth album, "Prime of My Life" which peaked at #117 on the Billboard 200 chart and #10 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart.
Phyllis scored her one and only #1 R&B hit with the single, "Don't Wanna Change the World" which topped Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart for a week in September of 1991, staying on the charts for 19 weeks. The song and the album were certified Gold by the RIAA in 1992.
The second single from the album, "Living in Confusion" peaked at #9 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart, staying on the chart for 18 weeks.
The third single, "When You Get Right Down To It" peaked at #10 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart, staying on the chart for 15 weeks.

The last single released from the album, "I Found Love" peaked at #70 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart, staying on the chart for 8 weeks.

A year later, Phyllis appeared on a Norman Connors album, singing the title song, "Remember Who You Are."

Sadly on the afternoon of June 30, 1995, Phyllis 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 and passed away three hours later at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital.

Phyllis was 45 years old at the time of her death and the week after her memorial service would've been her 46th birthday.
In November of 1995, Phyllis' ninth album, "I Refuse to Be Lonely" was released posthumously. The album managed to peak at #67 on the Billboard 200 chart and #12 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart.
The title song peaked at #59 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart, staying on the chart for 19 weeks.
The follow-up single, "I'm Truly Yours" peaked at #94 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart, staying on the chart for 5 weeks.
In 1998, Phyllis' last album, "Forever With You" which peaked at #66 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart.

The album was released three years after Phyllis' death and contains 12 unreleased songs that were recorded between 1985 and 1995 during her time on Philadelphia International Records.
The first single released from the album, "Funny How Love Goes" featuring singer Damon Williams, peaked at #75 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart, staying on the chart for 7 weeks.
The follow-up single, "Tell Me What You're Gonna Do" peaked at #78 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart, staying on the chart for only 2 weeks.

Phyllis Hyman was a wonderful, talented female singer, who sadly left this earth, but her music will never be forgotten.

To see a fan-made video for "Loving You, Losing You," go to:

To see a fan-made video for "You Know How to Love Me," go to:

To see the music video for "Living All Alone," go to:

To see the music video for "Don't Wanna Change the World," go to:

To see the music video for "Living in Confusion," go to:

To see a fan-made video for "Can't We Fall in Love Again," go to:

To see a fan-made video for "I Refuse to Be Lonely," go to:

To see a fan-made video for "Funny How Love Goes," go to:

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