Friday, June 23, 2017

Phyllis Hyman – You Know How To Love Me

Most Wanted! Phyllis Hyman – You Know How To Love Me (Arista)

The opening cut to her album of the likes, ‘You Know How To Love Me’ stands among the definitive highlights of the year 1979.
A definitive piece of sophisticated groovy Soul, it carries the signature sound of her producers, James Mtume and Reggie Lucas. A sound elaborated from the same distinctive ingredients one can find on Stephanie Mills‘s ‘Put Your Body In It’, released that same year.

No surprisingly, ‘You Know How To Love Me’ stands among the most sought after promo 12″ on Arista. This, along with Ray Parker, Jr. & Raydio‘s ‘It’s Time To Party Now’ and Harvey Mason‘s ‘Groovin’ You’.

Overview
– Born in Pittsburgh although raised in Philadelphia, PA, Phyllis Hyman started her professional career back in 1971. She first got involved in various groups (The New Direction, All The People) before launching her own one. Based then in New York, she started making herself a reputation on the club scene. This is how Norman Connors, who was looking for a female singer, discovered her. He would soon after get her to feature on his ‘You Are My Starphip’ album released in 1976.

Hyman‘s heydays came 3 years after with the release of ‘You Know How To Love Me’, her (already) 4th solo LP on Arista. Its title track, produced by James Mtume and Reggie Lucas, bringing her to the forefront. Hyman would nevertheless have to wait for an extra 2 years before scoring her first hit. A cut called ‘Can’t We Fall in Love Again?’ recorded as a duet with Michael Henderson.

The 80’s happened to be a succession of ups and downs for the lady with no significant success although managing to be quite active. From various film appearances to collaborations with luminaries such as McCoy Tyner, Joe Sample or Grover Washington, Jr. among others. Not to mention the release of 2 albums.

She finally would score her first #1 hit in 1991 with ‘Don’t Wanna Change The World’, produced by Nick Martinelli.

Phyllis Hyman released her 10th and final album – the ironically titled ‘I Refuse To Be Lonely’ – in July 1998.

Obviously disappointed by the global lack of support she received, Phyllis Hyman put an end to her life in the bedroom of her NYC apartment, on a sad June 30, 1995.
On her suicide note, on could read: “I’m tired. I’m tired. Those of you that I love know who you are. May God bless you…”

James Mtume, a singer, songwriter, and multi instrumentist, and Reggie Lucas (himself a guitarist and songwriter too) met during their days as members of the Miles Davis band in the early 70’s.
Together, they produced an impressive series of outstanding gems. Among their most memorable ones: ‘Back Together Again’ for Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway. ‘You Know How To Love Me’ for Phyllis Hyman. ‘What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin” and ‘Put Your Body In It’ for Stephanie Mills. But also ‘Say You Will’ for Eddie Henderson and Real Thing‘s ‘She’s A Groovy Freak’.

Ultimately they would work together on the two first albums of Mtume (‘Kiss This World Goodbye’ and ‘In Search Of The Rainbow Seekers’) before parting ways by the beginning of the 80’s.

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