Phyllis Hyman was one of my favorite singers. She was extremely talented, though her recording career had its highs and lows. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in Sophisticated Ladies, the Broadway play based on the music of Duke Ellington. She was in films like Lenny and School Daze.
For all of her accomplishments, she resonated with me with the slow songs. Though my favorite song from her is “You Know How To Love Me,” an uptempo number that also fared well in the dance clubs, her ballads were always a joy to hear. Whether they were original songs or covers, she did them all well. One of my favorite covers that she sang was her version of the Stylistics’ 1971 song “Betcha By Golly Wow.” That song is today’s #RomanticTuesday entry.
It was Norman Connors who helped to get Hyman’s career off the ground. While trying unsuccessfully to get Jean Carne to sing on his album You Are My Starship, he had heard about Hyman, and went to see her sing at a New York nightclub. Impressed, he offered her the job as female vocalist on the album. By including her in a duet with Michael Henderson, ” We Both Need Each Other,” as well as today’s song, Connors opened the door for Phyllis at R&B radio. Once the title track of the album (sung by Henderson) became a huge R&B hit, “Betcha By Golly Wow” was released and made it to the top 30 of the R&B chart.
Personal and professional struggles seemed to hang around Hyman throughout her career. When she seemed to be gaining momentum to becoming a bigger recording star, label problems, delays in releasing her songs, and just plain bad luck would seem to be around the corner. It was while recording songs for the album I Refuse To Be Lonely, that Hyman decided she couldn’t take anymore. On June 30, 1995, hours before she was to perform at the famous Apollo Theater in New York, Hyman committed suicide on an overdose of pills.
Gone, but not forgotten, Hyman lives on through the classic songs she released throughout her career. This ballad is just one of the best that she had, and while it is a remake, she definitely makes it her own.
I hope you enjoy this version of the Stylistics’ classic hit, and as always, thanks for reading and listening.