I first saw Phyllis Hyman
(pictured above) perform at the Greek Theater in Berkeley with McCoy Tyner. During the set, Hyman had several wardrobe changes.
On stage, she looked like a
supermodel as she belted out song after song. After the performance, McCoy Tyner
said, his kids talked him into featuring Hyman on the album because they were
such big fans.
Before exiting the stage, Phyllis
Hyman bowed gracefully and blew kisses to the crowd.
In 1976, Phyllis recorded a
cover of the Stylistics “Betcha By Golly Wow” on the Norman Connors, “You Are
My Starship” album.
In 1977, Phyllis would have
her biggest solo hit “You Know How To Love Me.”
Phyllis put her singing career
on hold in 1981, when she agreed to co-star in the Los Angeles Broadway production
of ‘Sophisticated Ladies” with Gregory Hines.
Other celebrities also admired
her talent, whenever she appeared in Los Angeles: Bill Cosby, Barry Manilow,
Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder and George Benson always had ringside seats.
A few years later, my brother,
a Phyllis Hyman fanatic told me that Hyman was appearing at a department store
on Union Square in San Francisco to promote a makeup line, only two blocks from
where I worked, could I possibly go on my lunch time and get her autograph.
When I arrived, it was a crowd;
Phyllis took her time with her fans and answered their questions. When I reached
the front, before autographing a photo, she told me she liked my gloves but
her hands were so big, she couldn’t wear gloves unless they were tailored to
fit. Before she left, she asked an aide to get change for two $100 bills, she
planned to go to the homeless areas around the city and give money out to homeless
The next time I saw Phyllis
Hyman was at the Circle Star Theater, where she was performing. Singer Keith
Washington was the opening act. After his set, Phyllis came out. I knew
something was wrong. Her appearance was shoddy at best. She was not the ‘Phyllis
Hyman’ I had seen perform a few years earlier. Instead, she wore a cheap dress,
her stomach was blotted and she performed in her stocking feet but when she
opened her mouth, you forgot her appearance.
Around this time, rumors were
circulating that Phyllis was drinking heavily due to depression.
Sadly, Phyllis Hyman was found
dead (she committed suicide) on June 30, 1995, before she was to open a show
for the Whispers.
The IRS was hounding her and she was depressed about her personal
Police would find a suicide note
near her body.
The note read: 'I’m tired,
I’m tired, May God Bless You.'