Pittsburgh Music Story‎ > ‎Pop‎ > ‎

Phyllis Hyman

The Amazingly Talented Sophisticated Lady

Phyllis Hyman was a recording artist, Broadway star, a film actress, song writer, and a gifted singer of rhythm and blues, jazz, and popular music. Exceptionally talented she sang emotionally powerful ballads with her distinct beautiful silky smooth dexterous contralto voice.  She described her music “slow soft sexy and dramatic”. In one song she could climb from a quiet smoky seductive voice to reach glorious sonorous heights.  With her great vocal range and her ability to emotionally interpret lyrics on songs like “I Refuse to be Lonely” 

Phyllis Hyman captivated audiences winning her many loyal fans and high acclaim.  Recording 9 albums between 1977 and 1995 on the Buddha, Artista, and Philadelphia International Records label Phyllis scored many hits on the R&B and Pop charts.  Her legacy of great records is honored with twenty two compilation albums.  She came to national attention with the Top 30 R&B hit “Betcha By Golly Wow” and was “named Best New R&B Vocalist of 1977 by Record World Magazine.  The title tune of her best selling 1979 album “You Know How to Love Me” became her signature song.  She scored her first Top Ten hit in 1981 with "Can't We Fall In Love Again", a duet with Michael Henderson.  

Starring on Broadway with Gregory Hines for two years in the Duke Ellington tribute musical “Sophisticated Ladies” she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and won the Theatre World Award for Best Newcomer.  Signing with Gamble and Huff’'s Philadelphia International Records she released two of her greatest albums: Living All Alone (1986) and Prime of My Life (1991), which included the number one Hot R&B/Hip-Hop hit “Don't Wanna Change the World.  She also sang on the recordings of Barry Manilow, the O’jays, Grover Washington Jr., McCoy Tyner, Norman Conners and others.  

A great live performer she touched her many devoted fans with her great voice and statuesque beauty at her thousands of concerts and night club appearances.  Hyman performed in several films and movie sound tracks including Children of Sanchez (1978); The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979); Too Scared to Scream (1985); School Daze (1988); Norman the Doorman (1989); and The Kill Reflex (1990).  She is also remembered as a generous humanitarian who performed at AIDS benefit concerts, spent time with AIDS patients, and advocated for woman issues.  

Blessed with incredible natural vocal talent and beauty she was also cursed with crippling bi-polar disease that put her in such great despair that she took her own life in 1995.  The range of extreme joy and deep sadness that she felt are reflected in the legacy of her great heartfelt dramatic recordings.

What the Critics and Peers say about Phyllis 

“One of music's most emotional and loved singers.” –Jason Elias –Allmusic Guide

 “The husky-voiced Hyman was a timeless song stylist in a class all her own.”   Jose F. Promis of Allmusic Guide

"Phyllis' voice would take you right out there on the clouds and float on that soft bed, and soar with the wind…. If you were blessed enough to have seen her Broadway performance of 'Sophisticated Ladies', the Ellington project, then you know how absolutely brilliant and stunning she was. She was a rare beauty, and in my estimation, one of the great voices of our time, along with being multi-talented.   For those of you who fortunate enough to have her early works or any of her offerings, you possess a sound that is only heard once in a lifetime.  Listen to the voice, the lyrics and understand the body of work Phyllis has left for us. " – Nancy Wilson liner notes of 'I Refuse To Be Lonely'

“Working with Phyllis Hyman was an experience...to say the least...such a beautiful voice beyond compare...so rich in its tone and flavor; her voice was uniquely identifiable without a doubt.  If you walked into a room with closed eyes and heard her sing one note, you knew that it was the voice of the great Phyllis Hyman. …Phyllis Hyman was so statuesque...so regal...so Phyllis!" - Kenneth Gamble from the 'Forever With You' CD.

The Pittsburgh Choir Singer

Phyllis Linda Hyman was born on July 6 1949 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to an African American father and an Italian American mother.  Shortly after her birth she moved with her family to Pittsburgh, Pa.  The oldest of seven children she grew up at the St. Clair Village apartments on Pittsburgh’s South side.  Her father Philip H. Hyman was a barber and her mother Beatrice Lively was a homemaker.  Naturally gifted with a great voice she began singing in school.  Eleanora Ferrell Lesesne, her teacher at the Phillip Murray Elementary School, encouraged her to pursue singing.  With shaking knees and quaking voice she nervously sang solo in public for the first time at a talent show at Knoxville Junior High school.  At Carrick High School she joined the choir and was mentored by her music teacher David Tamburi a jazz pianist.  He gave her private voice lessons for several years and urged her to become a professional musician.  Phyllis sang during her high school years with the All-City choir that was comprised of students across Pittsburgh.  In an interview with the Pittsburg Post Gazette a junior high classmate of Phyllis said "When she walked into a room, heads would turn. She was attractive, but she also had a presence about her, even at that young age.”  During her teen years she was greatly influenced by the music of James Brown and Nancy Wilson.  While in high school Hyman formed the all female trio the Souls of Ebony.  The trio performed message songs at several music festivals and at the Black Week celebration at the University of Pittsburgh.  She made her first recording at a small Beltzhoover studio singing backup on a single titled "Sad Girl".  It was aired on Pittsburgh radio. 

Graduating from high school in 1967 Phyllis received the first ever music scholarship to Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh.  Dave Tamburi joined the faculty at Robert Morris and continued to teach her there.  Phyllis trained to be a legal secretary at Robert Morris.  Leaving college she worked as a file clerk at General Electric, a secretary for Westinghouse, and then spent three years as a legal secretary for Neighborhood Legal Services.  While in college and working she continued to sing for fun.   She went to local nightclubs to watch jazz and R&B groups perform.  Often she would go onstage to sing with the bands such as Walt Harpers at the Crawford Grill, the Lowendi Club and other nightspots. Nathan Davis, head of the University of Pittsburgh's jazz program, said in an interview that drummer Max Roach took him see Phyllis perform at a talent show at St. Benedict of the Moor Church in the Hill District in 1969. Davis said the 19 year old singer was “absolutely fantastic."    Some sources report that Hyman was a back-up singer at the Steel City Records studio in East Liberty where sang backup on the Flora Wilson single “Dancing On A Daydream”. Produced by Walt Maddox it was released on the Soulvation Army label.

Making it in Miami.

In interview Phyllis said she knew she could sing but she did not know if she wanted to do it professionally.  After hearing Phyllis sing at a Pittsburgh club jazz pianist Dick Morgan asked her to tour with his band New Direction. Hyman’s supervisor at Neighborhood Legal Service generously gave Phyllis a leave of absence to pursue her dream.  In October of 1971 Phyllis at age 20 went on tour as the lead singer of New Direction performing in Las Vegas, Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico.  Hyman credited Dick Morgan for teaching her everything about show business.  At the end of the tour in April of 1972 she returned to Pittsburgh finding temporary work as a baby sitter for a friend.  Through musicians that she met on the New Directions tour she moved to Miami to join “All the People” a horn and rhythm band.  Becoming a popular singer  in Miami she formed her own band Phyliss Hymann and P/H Factor that featured Hiram Bullock on guitar.  Working steadily for three years in Miami she perfected her stage act performing jazz, Latin, and R&B. While working on the Norwegian Cruise Line with a band called the Hondo Beat she met her future husband singer Larry Alexander.  Back in Miami Alexander told record producer George Kerr about Phyllis convincing him to see her perform.  Kerr, who had worked with the Ojays, saw Hyman perform with the P/H Factor at The Love Lounge.  Swept away by her performance Kerr encouraged Phyllis to move to New York.  Phyllis , boyfriend Larry Alexander. and P/H Factor relocated to the New York City in 1975. 

Discovered in New York 

George Kerr signed her to his Desert Moon Productions roster in late 1975.  She recorded eight songs working with Kerr and released the disco single “Leaving the Good Life Behind” on the Private Stock label.  The single failed to earn airplay.  Larry Alexander booked Phyllis for an engagement at Rust Browns an uptown jazz club. He was able to get gig by committing Phyllis to do the first set for free.  Only about ten people came out for her opening night at Rust Browns.  Word of mouth about her talent quickly spread from those ten people.  By the second week the club was standing room only.  In the audience sat Stevie Wonder, George Harrison, Ashford and Simpson, Al Jarreau, and Main Ingredient vocalist Cuba Gooding. They were drawn in by her powerful voice and her super model thin stunning beauty.  Musician Onaje Allan Gumbs, who saw Phyllis at the club, called producer Norman Connors urging him to see her.  Conners hired Phyllis to sing lead on a remake of the song “Betcha By Golly Wow” and other cuts on his Buddha Records album “You Are My Starship”.  Conners became the music director of Buddha in 1976

Hyman’s next engagement in New York was at the more prestigious club Mikells where she performed jazz standards, pop and R&B tunes.  Eager executives from several labels including CBS, Warner, and Atlantic came out to Mikells hear her.  But she was still under contract to George Kerr who released her second single with two songs written by Larry Alexander “Baby (Im Gonna Love You)” / “Do Me” in the summer of 1976 on the Desert Moon label.  The single reached number 76 on the R&B charts.  Norman Conners then released his album “You Are My Starship” and the single “We Both Need Each Other” a duet with Phyllis and Michael Henderson that reached number 23 on the R&B charts.  Phyllis joined Conner’s live band and toured for several months appearing with Henderson and Connors.  Buddha released “Betcha By Golly Wow” as a single making it a top 30 R&B hit in early 1977. 

Solo Album Career 

Happy with the promotion that Buddha Records had given to “Betcha By Golly Wow” Phyllis signed with Buddha Records.  Buddha bought out her contract from Desert Moon. Larry Alexander produced the recording  session that with members of her band P/H Factor including guitarist Hiram Bullock.  Hyman released her debut solo album titled “Phyllis Hyman” in 1977. Two singles hit the R&B charts: “Loving You-Losing You” hit number 32 and “No One Can Love You More” peaked at number 58.  The album also included the tear jerker ballad “I Don’t Want Lose You” that became one her signature live performance songs.  The album charted at 107 on the Billboard Top 200.  Record World Magazine, one of the leading music publications of the era, named Phyllis the Best New R&B Vocalist of 1977. Hyman married her boyfriend / manager Larry Alexander in 1978

Heavily in depth from a management buyout Buddha turned to Arista Records to fund and release its albums in 1978.  Clive Davis, president of Arista, bought out Phyllis Hyman’s contract from Buddha moving her to his label.  Wanting million selling artists Clive Davis took control of Hyman’s recordings.  He wanted to transform her from an R&B / Jazz artist into a cross-over Pop star.  Davis forced Hyman to record a schmaltzy pop duo single with Barry Manilow titled ‘Somewhere in My Lifetime”.  Her husband Larry Alexander produced her second album titled ‘Somewhere in My Lifetime that was released on Artista in 1979.  The single reached number 12 on the R&B charts. The album with strong sales reached number 15 on the R&B album charts.  One of the memorable cuts from the album "Here's That Rainy Day" features Phyllis backed by only a piano.

In November of 1979 Arista released Phyllis Hyman’s third album “You Know How to Love Me”.  Arista brought in song writers James Mtume and Reggie Lucas to produce the album. It featured a mix of balland and disco flavored songs.  The single “You Know How to Love Me” was on the R&B charts for 21 weeks climaxing at number 12. The dance track “Under Your Spell” hit number 37 on the R&B charts in the spring of 1980.  Other highlight songs on the album include the sophisticated fusion jazz ballad "Complete Me", "Some Way" and the piano ballad "But I Love You".  The album, which sold around 400,000 copies, reached the R&B Top 10 and the Top 50 in Pop.  Jose F. Promis of the Allmusic Guide wrote of the album: “This is the case of an album that was not a blockbuster upon initial release, but, like a great overlooked film, has grown into a classic whose importance will only increase with the passing of time.”

Starring On Broadway 

Arranger Lloyd Mayers, who was working on a score for musical that would pay tribute to Duke Ellington, caught one of Phyllis Hyman’s shows at Mikells in 1980.  He was so impressed that he returned every night for a week sitting in the front row.  Shortly afterwards the producers of the musical called Phyllis asking her to audition.  She sang Ellington’s tune “Satin Doll” and was asked back for a second round.  Overnight she used a Louis Armstrong record to learn Ellington’s song “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing”.  She won the role of Etta beating out Marilyn McCoo and Leslie Uggams.  The so-called genius Clive Davis opposed Hyamn’s participation in the show, but she defied him and did it.  Sophisticated Ladies opened in late February 1981 at the Lunt Fontanne Theater in New York City starring Gregory Hines, Judith Jamison, and Phyllis Hyman.  Frank Rich in his New York Times review wrote: “When Phyllis Hyman, a cool tomcat of a woman, applies her powerful, smoky voice to ''In a Sentimental Mood,'' she immediately transports the audience to a 52d Street saloon of yesteryear at 3 in the morning.”  The show was a smash hit. Phyllis gave a command performance singing the Ellington classics “I Got It Bad”, “That Aint Good”, “In a Sentimental Mood” and It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing”. She won the Theatre World Award for Most Promising New Talent and received a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.  Hyman became a larger than life Broadway star.  Her success in the show led to her national television appearances on the “Broadway Plays Washington on Kennedy Center Tonight” special, Mike Douglas, and Johnny Carson.  Phyllis stayed with Sophisticated Ladies for 22 months until it closed on January 2, 1983 after 767 performances.

The Goddess of Love

While performing on Broadway in 1981 Hyman recorded her fourth album “Can’t We Fall in Love Again” for Arista.  Norman Conners produced the album and brought back Michael Henderson to sing the title track duet with Phyllis.  The single “Cant We Fall in Love Again” reached number nine on the R&B charts.  The second single “Tonight You and Me”, a dance track, scored number 22 on the R&B charts in the fall of 1981.  The album charted at number 11 in R&B and 57 on the Billboard Top 200.   

For her fifth album “Goddess of Love” Arista in its infinite wisdom hired an odd ball paring of producers with conflicting styles.  Narada Michael Walden, who had been a drummer for Jeff Beck and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, forced Phyllis to record a dance song that she absolutely hated “Riding the Tiger”.  She did not want to be cast as a trendy Donna Summers / Gloria Gaynor dance diva. Riding the Tiger was a disappointment reaching only number 30 on the R&B charts. Producer Tom Bell made Hyman sing several second rate mellow tunes.  Critics consider “Goddess of Love” as Hyman’s weakest album due to the poor song selection, uneven quality, and contrasting styles of Bell and Walden. Allmusic Guide blasts the producers writing: this regrettably takes Hyman away from jazz and often puts her knee-deep in pabulum”   Despite the goofy lyrics and misuse of her great talent Hyman’s loyal fans drove the album to the number 20 spot on the R&B chart.  Arista’s clumsy management slowed the rise in popularity that Hyman had achieved with her previous albums and her Tony Nominated Sophisticated Ladies performance.

Transition from Arista

Hyman was disappointed that Arista would not let her select the music for her albums.  Instead they made her record inferior trendy songs that did not fit her style, character and talent.  She was forced to work with producers who did not understand her.  The producers and Clive Davis tried to mold her to the current pop trends rather than developing her unique and rich talents.  She also pointed out the she did not choose to sign with Arista. Phyllis also believed that the label overlooked and ignored her, failing to give enough support to her releases.  Thus she fought Aritsta’s president Clive Davis and stopped listening to him.  Hyman’s four Arista albums netted three top-15 hits “Somewhere in My Lifetime”, “You Know How to Love Me”, and “Can't We Fall in Love Again”.  But Clive Davis was disappointed that Phyllis had not produced a million selling number one record.  He stopped production on Phyllis Hyman releases in 1983.  He bound her to the Arista contact barring her from recording for another label for three years. This kept her out of the competition for record sales against less talented singers on Arista’s roster like Angela Bofill and Dionne Warick.

Hyman separated from her husband and manager Larry Alexand in 1982 and divorced him in 1986.  Needing a new manager she hired attorney Glenda Garcia and Cindy Fransis as her managers.     

Prevented from recording solo albums Phyllis Hyman continued her career recording as a guest singer on the albums of other artists, performing in movies and on movie sound tracks, making national commercials, and being a spokes model.  She appeared on the albums of Chuck Mangione, Barry Manilow, McCoy Tyner, The Whispers, and The Four Tops.  Hyman sang commercial jingles for Bain de Soleil suntan lotion, Burger King, Welch's Grape Drink, Sasson Jeans, American Airlines, Clairol, and MasterCard.  Her managers hired a designer to create unique fashions for Phyllis that she wore onstage.  Capitalizing on her beauty she became fashion spokes model promoting Clairol's Born Beautiful products, Revlon's Polished Amber makeup, and Fashion Fair Cosmetics.  Phyllis made an appearance in the movie 'Two Scared To Scream'   In 1983 she appeared on the PBS tribute to Eubie Blake “A Century of Music” at the Kennedy Center along with Stevie Wonder , Patti LaBelle, Rosemary Clooney, and Cab Calloway.  Her next television special appearance was in 1984 in “A Celebration of Life: A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr” that also featured Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Debbie Allen.  During this period she toured frequently and did a college lecture tour.  In February of 1983 Mayor Caliguri declared “Phyllis Hyman Week" in Pittsburgh when she returned home for an appearance at the Heaven Club. 

Phyllis’s mental health problems began to affect her career in 1985.  Director Stephen Spielberg selected Phyllis Hyman to play the role of blues singer Shug Avery in the acclaimed film “The Color Purple”.   During the first cast meeting with Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover she lost her temper and the role.  She was replaced by actress Margaret Avery whose singing was over dubbed by Tata Vega.  Her manic anger caused her to lose a major role.  Later in 1985 she was diagnosed with bi-polar disease.

Success with Philadelphia International 

Freed from the legal and artistic chains of Clive Davis’s Arista contract in mid 1985 Phyllis and her managers pursued a new record deal.  In 1986 she signed with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International label.  Rock Hall of Fame members Gamble and Huff, the forces behind the Philadelphia Soul Sound, wrote and produced recordings for Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, the Spinners, the O'jays, Billy Paul, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass and many more.  It was an ideal situation for Phyllis to collaborate with musicians who understood her and respected her talent.  Her album “Living All Alone”, released in the Fall of 1986, was a sophisticated smooth soulful recording.  It surpassed the mismanaged uneven records of Arista.  Critic Jason Elias of Allmusic Guide proclaims “The producers and writers gave her an album's worth of instant-classic singer's songs….it's one of Hyman's finest efforts.”  The album featured two top 20 Hot R&B singles and a top 30 single.  The song “Old Friend” climbed to number 14, the title track went to number 12, and the song “Ain’t You All Alone” achieved number 29. Other memorable songs are the classic bittersweet ballad "You Just Don't Know" and First Time Together”. The album was number 11 on the R&B charts and 78 overall.  With sales of 465,000 copies it was her biggest selling album thus far.  Doing an international concert tour and appearing on television talk shows and in magazine articles she was back in the spotlight.

Release of a follow-up album by Hyman went on hold for five years when Philadelphia International lost its distribution deal with Manhattan Records.  But Hyman continued to write and record new songs with Gamble and Huff.  During this time she toured extensively making about 120 appearances a year.  In 1988 Hyman performed at the International Tokyo Music Festival.

Phyllis again recorded with several other artists.  She sang lead on Grove Washington Jr’s song “Sacred Kind of Love" that reached number 23 on the charts.  In 1987 she recorded the duet "Black and Blue" with Barry Manilow on his Swing Street album.  She also recorded the ballad “Obsession” with Lonnie Liston Smith.  In 1988 she performed the jazz ballad “Be One” in Spike Lee’s film School Daze, which released as a video.  Phyllis co-starred with Fred Williamson in the action movie 'The Kill Reflex' in 1991 playing the part of Irene and contributed the song “Meet Me On The Moon” to the sound track. 

Personal Difficulties

Phyllis’s began to encounter difficult emotional, addiction, and financial problems in the mid 1980s.  In 1984 she broke her foot, was disabled for several weeks, and began to gain weight.  She spent profusely running up debt.  Phyllis also experienced severe mood swings that went from exuberant highs to deep depression and loneliness.  She and some of her siblings inherited the bi-polar disease from her mother who suffered from chronic depression. Diagnosed with bi-polar disease in 1985 Phyllis was prescribed Lithium to control her mood swings.  But fearing that she would lose her creativity she went off the medications.  Instead she medicating herself from her using cocaine and alcohol.  Her managers and family convinced her to enter rehabilitation in 1986.  Leaving rehab she immediately went back to abusing drugs and alcohol.  She made suicide attempts in 1989 and in June of 1990 taking overdoes of sleeping pills.  In January of 1991 she returned to rehabilitation.  Her problems made it difficult for her to maintain relationships further compounding her loneliness and despair. Many of her songs from this period deal with the theme of overcoming loneliness.

Ecstasy of a Number 1 Song 

Landing a distribution deal with Zoo Entertainment Philadelphia International Records released Phyllis Hyman’s seventh album “Prime of My Life” in the summer of 1991.  It was the biggest album of her career with three top ten singles.  The new jack swing hip-hop rap single “Don’t Wanna Change the World” became a number one hit on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. The song in "Living in Confusion" that Phyllis co wrote with Kenny Gamble reached number 9 and "When You Get Right Down to It" peaked at number 10.  The album placed at number 10 on the R&B chart with sales of 454,000 copies.  Jose F. Promis of Allmusic Guide calls “Prime of My Life” “an emotional tour de force…. This album is a true gem and proves that the husky-voiced Hyman was a timeless song stylist in a class all her own.”   The readers of the United Kingdom by Blues & Soul magazine voted Phyllis 'Number One Best Female Vocalist' in 1992 picking her over Anita Baker, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin.

Refusing to be Lonely

In 1993 working again with Norman Conners she sang the title song on his album "Remember Who You Are" that became a minor R&B hit. But 1993 was a tragic year for Phyllis.  She suffered the deaths of her mother, her grandmother, and her friend song writer Linda Creed within a month of each other.  This deepened her loneliness and depression.  She was consumed by her personal problems battling alcohol addiction, weight gain and financial difficulties.  Plagued by depression and substance abuse she was a no show at some concert dates and botched several performances.  As she gained weight her self esteem plummeted.  Appearing overweight and sad on the The Arsenio Hall Show she discussed her depression and loneliness.  Even though she was loved by fans around the world and her family her bi-polar disease overwhelmed her with emptiness.  Loneliness became the theme of her album “I Refuse to Be Lonely” that she recorded in 1995. She co-wrote five songs about her loneliness and struggle to survive.

On June 30 1995 Phyllis was scheduled to open for the Whispers at New York City’s Apollo Theater.  At 2 P.M. her assistant Lenice Malina found the door to Phyllis’s apartment locked by a chain.  Breaking through the chain they found Phyllis unconscious in her bed surrounded by vodka and phenobarbital and secobarbital pills.  Also found was a note that read “I'm tired. I'm tired. Those of you that I love know who you are. May God bless you."  She was rushed to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital where she died one week before her 46th birthday. She fell victim to bi-polar disease.

In November of 1995 Philadelphia International Records released “I Refuse to Be Lonely” with her bittersweet lyrics to the title song and the cuts “Waiting for the Last Tear to Fall”, “This Too Shall Pass”, and “Its Not About You (Its About Me)”.  The album hit number 12 on the R&B charts and 67 on the Top 200.  Jose F. Promis of Allmusic Guide describes the album: “Phyllis Hyman, despite all her troubles, managed to leave the world another wonderful set of classy, sophisticated quiet storm jazz ballads with I Refuse to Be Lonely, augmented by her one-of-a-kind, brutally raw and honest voice.”

Forever Phyllis 

Philadelphia International Records released “Forever With You” a collection of 12 unreleased tracks of torch songs, ballads, smooth jazz, and up-tempo songs recorded by Phyllis Hyman working Kenny Gamble between 1985-1995. The album and two singles reached the Billboard R&B charts.  Memorable tracks include "Funny How Love Goes", the ballad “Someone to Love”, "Come Right or Not at All," "The Strength of a Woman," and her cover of the Stylistics' "Hurry Up This Way Again." Jose F. Promis of Allmusic Guide praises the album: “Forever With You… is a must for any fan …As always, however, the star is Hyman's tortured, elegant, and ferocious voice, and the unparalleled conviction that she injects into each song.  Another four-star set from the great, regal Sophisticated Lady.”

The struggles of Phyllis Hyman were document by author Jason A. Michael  in the biography of life "Strength of a Woman" that was released in September 2007.

Some music critics say that Phyllis Hyman was not a superstar, but twenty two compilation albums of her music have been released from 1986 through 2006.  Even Arista cashed in on her legacy with four compilations.  Much lesser singers with weak voices such as Madonna, Brittney Spears, and Mariah Carey are hailed as diva superstars.  But their voices and music pale in comparison to the great voice and emotion that Phyllis Hyman left behind in her legacy of recordings.

 She stands as a diva among divas”. - Mark Anthony Neal - the Private Struggles of a  Genius

The Music of Phyllis Hyman
Phyllis Hyman Video Songbook
Click to listen to her classic recordings


Phyllis as a Child
Phyllis in High School
Phyllis Hyman Miami Night Club Star
Phyllis Diva


Broadway Star
Phyllis in Life Magazine with Gregory Hines
Recording Star
Jet Magazine

Fashion Diva
Fashion Queen
Interview with Jet
Unsung -Phyllis Hyman
Phyllis's Unique Style
In Concert