For those who are unfamiliar, Phyllis Hyman had a voice of gold. She was loved and adored by many. The problem was that she often couldn’t find any of that love for herself. While she sold many records for Philly International Records she was often lost in a world of drugs and depression. Many referred to her as a sophisticated lady. Truth be told, she would often curse like a sailor. I knew her. She had been over my house. My brother Bill was her musical director at one point. Her story is a great one to read if you can find someone who will tell it truthfully. Here is an excerpt of her live performance:
She committed suicide at her New York apartment by overdosing on pentobarbital and secobarbital. She left behind a suicide note saying, “I’m tired. I’m tired. Those of you that I love I know who you are. May God bless you.” She took her life on June 30, 1995. The sad part is that she had tried on other occasions to take her life as well and failed. This time she succeeded. They had a memorial service for her at St. Peter’s Lutheran church in New York and they also had one here in Philadelphia at Bright Hope Baptist Church. I played for the service here in Philly. The service that I played for seemed so tragic. People were struggling just to say good things about her. Her own sister came up and cried as she told the audience “You should never turn your back on your family.” People spoke of the troubles she faced. They spoke about her depression, her large frame (She was 6 feet tall during a time when a woman that size was not viewed as favorable as it is today), her weight and her resistance to sing. She had one concert here in Philadelphia where she was high and gave a horrible show. The crowd booed her and she gave them the finger onstage as people walked out. Hers was a life of extremes and it was amazing how one person who was so loved felt so all alone. I hope that most artists who are starting out in the business read up on her life story. Could she have been helped? Of course… but in this business there isn’t much love for you, but rather for “what you can do for me.” Her legend may still be viewed in a positive way, but her story goes far beyond her music… I hope you get the chance to check it out for yourself. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
The late saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. (who worked with Phyllis) brother Bill Jolly and Brett Jolly