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Gone But Not Forgotten: Phyllis Hyman

Remembering Phyllis Hyman, 7/6/1949 - 6/30/1995. More Gone But Not Forgotten tributes

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    Phyllis Hyman, 7/6/1949 - 6/30/1995
    With her fashion model looks and her silky voice, Philadelphia's Phyllis Hyman could have had a career on par with Whitney Houston. Unfortunately, she didn't meet crossover expectations, and in the end, a prolonged deep depression, fading of striking looks and a drug/alcohol addiction caused her to take her life in the week before her 46th birthday in 1995. Like so many magnificent artists before and since, Phyllis Hyman succumbed to her personal demons and the world was robbed of an amazing talent. She left behind several albums of unforgettable jazz-influenced R&B.
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    Pictured: Phyllis' 1977 debut with "Loving You Losing You" and "No One Can Love You More". Phyllis Hyman, then a popular jazz club singer, was given her big break by producer Norman Connors, offering her a job as a featured vocalist on his 1976 album You Are My Starship. Together they scored on the R&B charts with a cover of The Stylistics' "Betcha By Golly Wow".
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    Phyllis Hyman - You Know How to Love Me (1979) with "But I Love You" and "Give a Little More". Phyllis Hyman's original recording contract with with Arista Records, also home to Barry Manilow. Surprisingly, the easy listening hitmaker and soul jazz chanteuse odd couple collaborated, and he remained a big fan of her work until the end.
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    Pictured: Phyllis Hyman - Somewhere in My Lifetime (1979) with the title track and "Kiss You All Over". Phyllis Hyman, in addition to her R&B recording career, appeared in films (Lenny, School Daze) and on Broadway in "Sophisticated Ladies", a role for which she received a Tony Award nomination.
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    Pictured: Phyllis Hyman - Living All Alone (1987) with the title track, "Old Friend", and "If You Want Me". After four years between labels after mutual dissatisfaction led to her leaving Arista, Hyman returned home and signed with Philadelphia International Records. She scored immediately with her most critically acclaimed album, 1987's Living All Alone, a wonderful collaboration with both Gamble & Huff and the great Thom Bell. The first single from that album was "Old Friend," a Thom Bell/Linda Creed piano ballad that was perhaps the year's most beautiful soul recording and a cut that fit Hyman like a glove.
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    Pictured is the cover of her most successful album, Prime of My Life, released in 1991 on Philadelphia International. It included her first #1 R&B hit as well as her first Billboard Top 100 hit, "Don't Wanna Change the World". Unfortunately, as she reached age 40, while she was approaching her creative peak, Hyman was increasingly facing personal problems. Ultimately, her demons overcame her.
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    Phyllis Hyman's last album was tellingly titled I Refuse to Be Lonely. A journey into her troubled personal life, it was released posthumously in 1995. Kenny Gamble said of Phyllis Hyman, "It saddens me to think of her passing so soon into the prime of her life, yet when I think of her, I think of her feelings of great joy. Joy for having the opportunity to have worked with such an outstanding voice. She was one of the most loyal artists that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. "