Phyllis Linda Hyman

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Phyllis Linda Hyman

Also Known As: "Diva", "The Sophisticated Lady", "Queenie", "Ms. Phyllis", "Love Goddess", "Pepper", "Red"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA, USA
Death: Died in New York, NY, USA
Cause of death: Suicide by drug overdose
Immediate Family:

Daughter of UFN Hyman and UFN Hyman
Ex-wife of Larry W. Alexander
Mother of <private> Hyman; <private> Hyman and <private> Hyman
Sister of <private> Hyman; UFN Hyman; UFN Hyman; UFN Hyman; UFN Hyman and 1 other

Managed by: Kenneth Kwame Welsh
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Phyllis Linda Hyman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllis_Hyman

Phyllis Linda Hyman (July 6, 1949 – June 30, 1995) was an American soul singer and actress.

Early years

Phyllis Hyman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the St. Clair Village, the South Hills section of Pittsburgh. Born to an an African American father and Italian mother, she was the eldest of seven children and a third cousin of Earle Hyman. After leaving Pittsburgh, her music training started with a scholarship to a music school. On graduation, she performed on a national tour with the group New Direction in 1971. After the group disbanded, she joined All the People and worked with another local group, The Hondo Beat. At this time, she appeared in the film Lenny (1974). She also did a two-year stint leading a band called Phyllis Hyman and the P/H Factor. 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.

Hyman moved to New York City to work on her reputation. She did background vocals on Jon Lucien's Premonition and worked in clubs. It was during one of these performances that she was spotted by Norman Connors, who offered her a spot as a vocalist on his album, You Are My Starship (1976). The duo scored on the R&B charts with a remake of The Stylistics' "Betcha by Golly Wow!".

Career

Hyman sang with Pharoah Sanders and the Fatback Band while working on her first solo album, Phyllis Hyman, released in 1977 on the Buddah Records label. When Arista Records bought Buddha, she was transferred to that label. Her first album for Arista, Somewhere in My Lifetime, was released in 1978; the title track was produced by then-labelmate Barry Manilow. Her follow-up album, You Know How to Love Me, made the R&B Top 20 and also performed well on the club–dance charts. In the late 1970s, Hyman married her manager Larry Alexander (who is the brother of Jamaican pianist and melodica player Monty Alexander), but both the personal and professional associations ended in divorce. Around this time, Hyman began using cocaine, which led to a life-long dependency.

Hyman's first solo Top Ten hit came in 1981 with "Can't We Fall In Love Again", a duet with Michael Henderson. The song was recorded while she was performing in the Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies, a tribute to Duke Ellington. She performed in the role for almost two years, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and winning a Theatre World Award for Best Newcomer.

Problems between Hyman and her label, Arista, caused a pause in her recording career. She used the time to appear on movie soundtracks, television commercials and guest vocals, working with Chuck Mangione, The Whispers and The Four Tops. Hyman provided vocals for three tracks on jazz pianist McCoy Tyner's Looking Out (1982). She toured often and did a college lecture tour.

In 1983, Hyman recorded the song "Never Say Never Again" as the title song for the James Bond movie of the same name, written by Stephen Forsyth and Jim Ryan. However, Warner Brothers informed Forsyth that Michel Legrand, who wrote the score for the film, had threatened to sue them, claiming he contractually had the rights to the title song. An alternate title song composed by Legrand was eventually used for the film and performed by singer Lani Hall, formerly of Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66.

Free from Arista in 1985, she released the album, Living All Alone on Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International label the following year, capitalizing on the torch songs, "Old Friend" and the melancholy title track, as well as "You Just Don't Know" and "Screaming at the Moon". Shortly afterwards, she appeared in the films School Daze and The Kill Reflex. She would also continue to lend her voice to albums for other artists and musicians like Grover Washington, Jr. and Lonnie Liston Smith, while at the same time doing international tours.

Her next album, again on Philadelphia International, called Prime of My Life, released in 1991, was the biggest of her career. It included her first number one R&B hit as well as her first Billboard Top 100 hit, "Don't Wanna Change the World". The album provided two more top 10 R&B singles in "Living in Confusion" and "When You Get Right Down to It", and the less successful "I Found Love". Just over a year later, she appeared one last time on a Norman Connors album, singing the title song, "Remember Who You Are", which became a minor R&B hit. Prime of My Life has sold 454,000 copies to date. The album and debut single were both RIAA certified Gold in 1992.

Hyman's last album, I Refuse to Be Lonely, was a journey into her personal life. Both the title track and the single "I'm Truly Yours" became minor R&B hits.

Death

On the afternoon of June 30, 1995, Hyman committed suicide by overdosing on pentobarbital and secobarbital in her New York City apartment.[1] She was found hours before she was scheduled to perform at the Apollo Theater.[2] 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.

http://lowando.tripod.com/biog.html

DIVA. A reference made to a female performer (usually an opera singer). In the popular vernacular of the music business, particularly in black music circles, the term diva takes on a whole other meaning. It implies that a female artist is demanding, difficult, uncompromising, inflexible. It can also be considered a term of endearment, referring to the incredible talent they possess, making them a cut above the rest.

With so much media attention focussed on current would-be's, wanna-be's and has been's, it's rare to find any pertinent coverage (particularly in Canada) of the women who make up the backbone of today's R&B, Pop and Jazz fields. Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and a host of girl groups owe a tip of the hat to their predecessors, women who didn't glide so easily to the top of the charts, or at least with such frequency. Phyllis Hyman, Jean Carne, Marlena Shaw and Angela Bofill have all been recording for many years. Unlike Houston and Carey, however, these women's careers have progressed like quiet thunder, providing them with regular touring work but sporadic recording contracts.

PHYLLIS HYMAN (1949-1995) Devoted fans of the late singer Phyllis Hyman describe her as a songstress extraordinaire with a no-nonsense attitude, and a lavish, larger than life stage persona. Deep-voiced and statuesque, Phyllis sang with a life affirming energy and emotional intensity found in few other female vocalists. Born in Pittsburgh and raised in Philadelphia, her professional career began in New York city where, during an engagement, she was spotted by producer Norman Connors and contemporaries Jean Carne and Roberta Flack among others. Phyllis was immediately offered a guest appearance on Connors' You Are My Starship album, which included her rendition of Betcha By Golly Wow.

In 1977 Buddah Records released her self-titled debut LP which featured the hits Loving You/Losing You and I Don't Wanna Lose You. A year later Hyman was signed to Arista Records. Her premiere album for the label was Somewhere In My Lifetime, released on 1978. The title track (produced by then newcomer Barry Manilow, a longtime admirer of Hyman's) became Phyllis' first radio hit. A cover version of Exile's Kiss you All Over was remixed for club play as part of Arista's promotion, showcasing her versatility. The following year You Know How To Love Me hit the record stores, and the title track became one of Hyman's biggest dance anthems. She would include it in her repertoire until the time of her passing.

In 1981 Phyllis starred in the hit Broadway tribute to Duke Ellington, Sophisticated Ladies and continued in the role for two and a half years, garnering a Tony Award nomination and a Theatre World Award for Best newcomer. The original cast recording was released by RCA and still remains a top seller on CD. While performing in Ladies, Phyllis cut her next album, Can't We Fall In Love Again (1981) featuring the title track, a duet with Michael Henderson. Phyllis was at the peak of her career at this period, was widely recognized as a New York celebrity. She was everywhere.

Goddess Of Love (1983) featured a sensational cover shot of Hyman at her most seductive, draped in a silver bugle beaded gown (which, according to Phyllis, weighed thirty pounds!) and sporting chandelier-sized earrings, a Hyman trademark. The recording, although containing two strong tracks, was patchy at best and Phyllis, discontented with the material chosen for this project was blunt about her feelings toward the record label and its cavalier attitude towards her. "Firstly, I came to the label because of the takeover of Buddah.so I didn't have much choice in the matter," she recalled. "There were some nice records, but I'd say I was pretty much overlooked and ignored." Ironically, the title Goddess of Love stuck with Phyllis as a term of endearment from both critics and fans.

Phyllis was left unrecorded for four years due to contractual discrepancies. It was during this time that a greatest hits package, entitled Under Her Spell (1989), was issued. She appeared on numerous albums as a guest vocalist, most notably with Chuck Mangione, Barry Manilow, The Whispers, and The Four Tops. Keeping in the public eye, Phyllis toured extensively with her band, did a college lecture tour, and lent her voice to several television commercials.

In 1987 she recorded Living All Alone for the resurgent Philadelphia International record label, released through Manhattan/EMI and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The release of the first single, Old Friend, brought Hyman back to the forefront of the industry with saturated radio play, international concert bookings, talk show appearances and countless magazine articles. Phyllis also had a cameo role in the Spike Lee film, School Daze (1988), performing the tune Be One, to which a video was later released. Other film appearances include Lenny (1976), Two Scared To Scream (1983) and a co-starring role with Fred Williamson in the action drama The Kill Reflex (1991).

Prime of My Life (1991, Zoo/BMG) was Phyllis' eagerly awaited follow up album after a four year lull, but was well worth the wait as she took an active role in selecting the material. While making the album, she agonized over a recent breakup. "It made the songs difficult to record, but the results were fabulous," Phyllis conceded. Don't Wanna Change The World was enthusiastically received by clubs and radio, attaining international status and becoming her first number one record according to Billboard. When the song's popularity soared, Zoo issued a remixed version to accommodate the demands of disk jockeys around the country.

In 1992 Phyllis was voted Number One Best Female Vocalist in the United Kingdom by Blues & Soul magazine readers, beating out the likes of Anita Baker, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. During this time Phyllis became involved in combating the AIDS crisis by lending her voice to countless benefit shows and visiting wards and hospices in and around New York. Many patients requested Phyllis' presence, which left the singer feeling inadequate and perplexed as to their reasons for wanting to see her as opposed to a family member or friends. The visits took a heavier toll on Phyllis that she realized. By now, her own personal problems were becoming evident. An ongoing battle with alcohol and weight gain, combined with career and financial woes were making life difficult for Hyman and those around her. In 1993 she was dealt another blow when both her mother and grandmother died within a month of one another.

Although Phyllis continued to record new material and perform live, her bouts of depression were clearly overwhelming her. Her irrational, self-destructive behavior was becoming common knowledge to those inside the music industry, her friends and also her fans and on June 30th, 1995, only hours before a scheduled performance at the Apollo Theatre in New York, Phyllis' lifeless body was found in her apartment where all efforts to revive her failed. Her suicide, while shocking, was not a surprise to many insiders. We, like so many others who know her, believed she would pull her life together. Sadly, we were mistaken.

In the posthumous released, I Refuse To Be Lonely (1995, Zoo/BMG), Phyllis alluded to her inner struggle on several songs, five of which she co-wrote. Her most intimate and emotional project yet, I Refuse To Be Lonely has reached the top 15 in Billboard's R&B chart, proving that talent of this caliber will always stand the test of time.

Her passing has left a void in the entertainment world, and in the hearts of many, including ourselves. Phyllis Hyman.our hero, our friend. We miss you.

Michael Grimaldi

This article originally appeared in the Toronto-based ICON MAGAZINE. Special thanks to Michael Grimaldi who wrote it and to Paul J. Tattersall who sent i.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0405198/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

Mini Bio (1)

Deep-voiced and statuesque, Phyllis Hyman sang with a life-affirming energy and emotional intensity found in few other female vocalists. Born in Philadelphia in 1949 (and raised in Pittsburgh), her professional career began in New York City where, during an engagement, she was spotted by producer Norman Connors and contemporaries Jean Carne and Roberta Flack, among others. She was immediately offered a guest appearance on Connors' "You Are My Starship" album (1976), which included her classic rendition of "Betcha By Golly Wow" (previously a hit for The Stylistics in the early 1970s).

In 1977 Buddah Records released her self-titled debut LP, which featured the hits "Loving You/Losing You" and "I Don't Wanna Lose You". A year later she was signed to Arista Records. Her premiere album for the label, "Somewhere In My Lifetime", was released in 1978 (it included many tracks that she recorded for a second album at Buddah titled "Sing A Song", which is now available on CD!). The title track for the album--produced by a newcomer named Barry Manilow, a longtime admirer of hers--became Phyllis' first solo radio hit. A cover version of Exile's "Kiss You All Over" was remixed for club play as part of Arista's promotion, showcasing her versatility. The following year, the James Mtume-/Reggie Lucas-produced "You Know How To Love Me" album, also on Arista, hit the record stores, and the title track became one of her biggest dance anthems. She would include it in her repertoire until the time of her passing. The album, which also contained fan favorites like "Complete Me" and "Under Your Spell", was remastered & re-released in the US in 2002.

In 1981 Phyllis co-starred (with Gregory Hines and Judith Jamison) in the hit Broadway tribute to Duke Ellington "Sophisticated Ladies" and continued in the role for 2-1/2 years, garnering a Tony Award nomination and a Theatre World Award for Best newcomer (the original cast recording was released by RCA and the CD is now out of print). While performing in "Ladies", Phyllis cut her next album, "Can't We Fall In Love Again" (1981) with the title track a duet with Michael Henderson and the album itself a production by Norman Connors. Phyllis was at the peak of her career at this point, and was widely recognized as a New York celebrity. She was everywhere! The follow-up album, "Goddess Of Love" (1983), featured a sensational cover shot of Hyman at her most seductive, draped in a silver bugle beaded gown (which, according to Phyllis, weighed 30 pounds!) and sporting chandelier-sized earrings, a Hyman trademark. The album (produced by Narada Michael Walden and Thom Bell), although containing two strong tracks, was patchy at best and Phyllis, discontented with the material chosen for this project, was blunt about her feelings toward Arista and its cavalier attitude towards her. "Firstly, I came to the label because of the takeover of Buddah. So I didn't have much choice in the matter," she recalled. "There were some nice records, but I'd say I was pretty much overlooked and ignored." Ironically, the title "Goddess of Love" stuck with Phyllis as a term of endearment from both critics and fans. "Goddess" would be her final Arista album, and even though it is a highly sought collector's item, Arista never released it on CD, though many of the songs can be found on a variety of Phyllis Hyman compilations.

She didn't record for four years due to contractual discrepancies with Arista, and since she was still legally bound to the Clive Davis-owned company, signing with another label wasn't possible. Arista also tried to destroy Hyman's career by deleting key albums/CDs, and by preventing her from recording full-length albums elsewhere. During her tenure as a "prisoner" at Arista, the label used all of its resources to promote Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston's self-titled debut album in 1985, while Angela Bofill was barely holding on herself. As legal battles continued, Phyllis appeared on numerous movie soundtracks and albums as a guest vocalist, most notably with Chuck Mangione, Manilow, The Whispers and The Four Tops. Keeping in the public eye, Phyllis also toured extensively with her band, did a college lecture tour and lent her voice to several television commercials.

In mid-1985 Phyllis was finally free from Arista, and in 1986 she recorded the classic "Living All Alone" album for the resurgent Philadelphia International record label (released through Manhattan/EMI and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff). The release of the first single, "Old Friend", brought her back to the forefront of the industry with saturated radio play, international concert bookings, talk-show appearances and countless magazine articles. Arista also attempted to cash in on her new success by releasing the shabby "Under Your Spell" compilation, which totally missed the mark. Phyllis also had a cameo role in the Spike Lee film School Daze (1988), performing the jazzy tune "Be One", to which a video was later released. Other film appearances include Lenny (1974), Too Scared to Scream (1985) and a co-starring role with Fred Williamson in the action drama The Kill Reflex (1989). "Prime of My Life" (1991, P.I.R./Zoo/BMG) was Phyllis' eagerly awaited follow-up album after a four-year lull, but was well worth the wait as she took an active role in selecting the material. While making the album, she agonized over a recent breakup. "It made the songs difficult to record, but the results were fabulous," Phyllis conceded. The up-tempo song "Don't Wanna Change The World" was enthusiastically received by clubs and radio, attaining international status and becoming her first #1 record, according to Billboard. When the song's popularity soared, P.I.R./Zoo issued a remixed version to accommodate the demands of disc jockeys around the country.

In 1992 Phyllis was voted Number One Best Female Vocalist in the United Kingdom by Blues & Soul magazine readers, beating out the likes of Anita Baker, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. During this time Phyllis became involved in combating the AIDS crisis by lending her voice to countless benefit shows and visiting wards and hospices in and around New York. Many patients requested Phyllis' presence, which left the singer feeling inadequate and perplexed as to their reasons for wanting to see her as opposed to a family member or friends. The visits took a heavier toll on Phyllis than she realized. By now, her own personal problems were becoming evident. An ongoing battle with alcohol and weight gain, combined with career and financial woes, were making life difficult for her and those around her. In 1993 she was dealt another blow when both her mother and grandmother died within a month of one another.

Although Phyllis continued to record new material and perform live, her bouts of depression were clearly overwhelming her. Her irrational, self-destructive behavior was becoming common knowledge to those inside the music industry, her friends and also her fans. On June 30, 1995, only hours before a scheduled performance at the Apollo Theater in New York, Phyllis' lifeless body was found in her apartment; she had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and left a suicide note. Her suicide, while shocking, was not a surprise to many insiders. We, like so many others who know her, believed she would pull her life together. Sadly, we were mistaken.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: soullegends2002@yahoo.com.com <soullegends2002@yahoo.com> Spouse (1) Larry Alexander (28 March 1979 - 26 September 1988) (divorced) (3 children)

Trade Mark (3)

  • Fancy hats, large chandelier-sized earrings
*Sometimes cried on cue in her songs
*Always performed without shoes

Trivia (25)

  • She won a Theater World award for Best Newcomer for "Sophisticated Ladies".
*Was a legal secretary before being discovered by Norman Connors.
*Started her professional career with the group New Direction.
*She died a few hours before she was due to perform at the Apollo Theater.
*Suffered from bi-polar disorder (manic depression) in her later life, which led to her eventual suicide.
*Hit #103 on the Billboard Singles Charts in 1977 with "Loving You - Losing You" (Buddah 567)
*Hit #101 on the Billboard Singles Charts in 1980 with "You Know How to Love Me" (Arista 0463)
*After the group New Direction disbanded, she joined a Miami group called All The People.
*She formed her own band Phyllis Hyman and the PH Factor before relocating to New York.
*She worked with a Miami group called The Hondo Beat.
*Left a suicide note before swallowing an overdose of sleeping pills on Memorial Day Weekend, 1995. At the time she was battling drug and alcohol addiction and weight gain. Ironically, she had just finished recording the song "I Refuse to Be Lonely."
*She married her manager, Larry Alexander, in the late 1970s; their marriage and professional relationship lasted nearly ten years. Larry's brother was well-known jazz pianist Monty Alexander.
*Once a fashion model.
*She was considered for the role of Shug Avery in The Color Purple (1985).
*Two of Phyllis' most important causes were AIDS and the plight of the homeless.
*Was one of Bill Cosby's favorite singers and opening acts.
*Her favorite cartoon character was Garfield the cat.
*Once had to travel across town in a speeding New York City firetruck, sirens wailing, to make a matinee performance of "Sophisticated Ladies."
  • Is the third cousin of actor Earle Hyman.
  • Famous artists such as Patti LaBelle, Roberta Flack, George Benson, Stevie Wonder and Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson would go out of their way to hear her perform.
  • Was a spokeswomen for Fashion Fair cosmetics in the 80s.
*Her voice was featured on nationally heard jingles from Burger King, Red Lobster, American Airlines, Mastercard & Lysol to name but a few.
  • Was nominated for Broadway's 1981 Tony Award as Best Actress (Featured Role - Musical) for her performance in the tribute to Duke Ellington, "Sophisticated Ladies," which ran from March 1, 1981 to January 2, 1983.
  • Was an excellent cook, and enjoyed cooking. Even had a couple of her recipes featured in Ebony Magazine.
  • Was the eldest of seven children.

Personal Quotes (6)

  • "Be nice to take that thing home and put it on my wall - but you know it ain't even real. Just a record they spray-painted gold. But that's OK. I'll take this and be more than thrilled! I've been in the business long enough to collect a whole bunch of them suckers!" (on her album "Living All Alone" going gold)
  • "I guess I'm better off fat - than dead!" (on quitting smoking & gaining weight)
  • "I was pretty much a basket case for the first year - I didn't think I was that good. Then when the Tony nomination came through and I got the Theatre World Award - I really thought they gave it to me 'cause there was no-one else.." (on her Broadway debut)
  • "Oh, I'm a ballad queen for sure... I don't dig dance stuff very much but I seem to hit the charts with it. Go figure..." (on her material)
  • You have to persevere...you will get as much out of this business as you put into it.
  • Just order me up a drink and a lot of food and I'm ready for the ride! ...on flying.

See also

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Phyllis Linda Hyman's Timeline

1949
July 6, 1949
Philadelphia, PA, USA
1979
March 28, 1979
Age 29
1988
September 26, 1988
Age 39
1995
June 30, 1995
Age 45
New York, NY, USA