Ms. Phyllis Linda Hyman, the tall statuesque Philadelphian Queen! An Unsung hero and hometown legend. Yall know about her right? Yall know that was Patti’s homegirl and the thorn in Clive Davis side? I would gather that he masses may only know…..You Know How To Love Me or Living All Alone or Betcha By Golly Wow. All great songs in her catalogue. They’re all great wonderful tunes as she would say. But you have to get into these album cuts and features. Ms. Hyman has a library full of torch songs and standards and immaculate features that never get their shine. So Im going to open the Factory doors and give you a little history on the amazonian jazz singer!
This first two tunes comes from the I Refuse To Be Lonely album,
Why Not Me and It’s Not About You (It’s About Me)
Phyllis brought out her pen game for this entire album. The majority of songs from her discography were written by other people but she decided that this album needed some authentic PH flavor child. Motha had something to say and it came clear across in these two tracks. All through out her career Phyllis always sang about heartbreak and love gone bad. Well this time shes taking her power BACK from love. She basically said “Listen honey…..IM WORTH LOVE!! If you aint with it then keep it movin!!”. It’s tragic that this body of work was eventually released months after her death but Phyllis made sure that she performed some of the tunes during her live shows. With songs like these you’d think things were starting to look up for the Goddess of Love but she was ready to go at this point. The theme for these tracks is basically…GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER OR GET AWAY FROM ME!!
This smooth tune comes from her immaculate Prime of My Life album titled
When I Give My Love This Time
Written by the legendary Kenny Gamble and Roland Chambers. This track should have been on the IRTBL album because it followed the Im Worth Love theme. But this smooth melody snuggled in nicely with the listing of POML. How many times have we’ve said those words? The next time Im going to give it my all! The next time Im going to make it work! The next time my love will be stronger! Well…..for some of us it happens and for the rest of us that “next time” never comes around.
This next tune came out on a compilation album back in ’98.That project was filled of gems that never saw the light of day.
Baby, Im Gonna Love You
If you can say anything about Phyllis is that she can sail smooth over a track. Her vocals were always just a smooth and striking almost like a smooth cognac over ice. She recorded this early on in her career. Before the torch singles came in and before the love struggles started to rise. Phyllis made you believe that she was going to LOVE YA with this simple tune and boy did we believe her!
Now Phyllis is more than just a balladeer and a crooner. She can sail over an uptempo track as well. A stand out track from the Somewhere In My Lifetime album that clearly demonstrates this skill is
Lookin’ For a Lovin’
Phyllis always wanted at least one uptempo track on her albums. Her most famous uptempo tune being Don’t Wanna Change The World, eventually became her one and only number one hit! So sometimes it works in her favor. Again this gem showcases her vocal genius, smooth vocals yet explorative uses of her instrument.
Ms. Hyman rarely did a lot of duets. There really are just a handful of them BUT this one sticks out. Maaaaaaybe because its a duet with the legendary Barry Manilow?!?
Black and Blue
The two were label-mates at the time and Barry previously worked with Phyllis on her Somewhere In My Lifetime album (he wrote the title track). A duet that never really got enough shine, Phyllis did appear on a tv special with Barry performing the haunting track live.
ONE MORE DUET!! This time with the legend Grover Washington Jr. so a duet with a saxophone this time not with a pairing vocal. But still all good right?
Sacred Kind of Love
Phyllis always had a jazzy voice, Motha can literally vocalize the Miles Davis classic Bitches Brew! So this pairing was a natural to her. A grown and sexy track with Sir Grover jamming in the background. A simple and yet timeless tune that seemed like it was an effortless jam session.
Final song……I may come back on another post and tell yall about some more of her hidden gems. But for now I’ll leave you with this and yes…….its a duet this time with McCoy Tyner. Two Philly heads combining their gifts to produce this magic
In Search of My Heart (Remember Me)
Out of her entire body of work this is my number one favorite. Why you may ask? Just listen to the lyrics! The foreboding message, the way she wailed at the end REMEMBAH MEEEEE! I felt like it was a message to her fans. A somewhat hopeful message “Don’t be sad yall look back at the good times we had together. Remember the times I ate off yall plates at my shows. Remember the times I cracked dirty jokes at my shows…..” Thats what she would want us to remember.
I chose to reopen the doors of the Factory with Phyllis for a few reasons. One being that this is the anniversary of her death, One being that we are still in Pride Month and Motha always supported the gays because I mean…she was one of us. Also she is the inspiration of the name of this here blog. See back in the day she had her own band called The Ph Factor. She fronted and managed the band, didn’t know she was a business woman huh? Well it just so happen we share the same first name. Mine being the male version of course. So I added a “y” to the name of her band and turned my humble knowledge of music history into The PH Factory. Clever play on words right?