The late singer, actress, and songwriter Phyllis Hyman was a powerful and inspiring performer whose artistry left an indelible impression on fans. Now, some 26 years since her passing, a majority of Hyman’s studio recordings, plus several bonus tracks, have been compiled for the nine-CD set “Old Friend: The Deluxe Collection 1976-1998,” due August 6, 2021, on Soul Music Records, distributed by Cherry Red Records. To celebrate Phyllis Hyman’s 72nd birthday as well as the release of this expansive new retrospective, fans can tune in to “A Special Tribute To Phyllis Hyman,” a special online event set for Tuesday, July 6, 2021, starting at 7 p.m. ET, to be streamed live on The Simply Phyllis Hyman FaceBook page and the Philadelphia International Records / SONY Music YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aovKQpbHHR0.
Moderated by cultural icon and beloved WDAS-FM Philadelphia air personality, Patty Jackson, this special tribute will feature David Nathan, music historian and project producer at SoulMusic Records; Nick Martinelli, the hitmaking R&B/pop record producer who worked on Phyllis’s Philadelphia International albums; and Avery Sunshine, R&B songstress/songwriter and devoted Hyman fan. The group will discuss Hyman’s vocal artistry, songwriting talent, overall career, and enduring influence on other artists. In addition, Nathan will reveal details of the production of “Old Friend: The Deluxe Collection.” The special will include interludes with music and videoclips, as well as a special Q&A session with fans. To register, click here.
“Old Friend: The Deluxe Collection 1976-1998,” is the most extensive collection yet of Hyman’s body of work to date that includes nine studio albums and several bonus tracks showcasing her range from R&B, jazz, pop, and more. Favorites include “You Know How To Love Me,” “Can’t We Fall In Love Again?,” “Betcha By Golly Wow,” “Meet Me On The Moon,” “Somewhere In My Lifetime,” “Living All Alone,” “Loving You, Losing You,” “I Refuse To Be Lonely,” and more. The customized boxed set includes personal tributes by Glenda Gracia, longtime Hyman manager, and executrix of the singer’s estate; music journalist and former Billboard editor Janine Coveney, and music archivist and curator Michael Lewis; also featured are never-before-seen studio and candid photographs. The boxed set is available for pre-orders now on Amazon, where it will be released on August 6, 2021. It is $69.75 with free shipping in the U.S. It is also available at Walmart online, for pre-orders now and shipping on August 5, 2021. It is $71.99 with free shipping in the U.S. Barnes & Noble is also taking pre-orders at $69.75, with free shipping in the US, for a release on August 6.
This celebration of Phyllis Hyman is both long overdue and eminently timely. The dynamic artist was ahead of her time. Hyman combined a stunning and statuesque beauty with a seemingly effortless vocal range, incomparable interpretive ability, and a mastery of multiple musical genres, not to mention a flair for the dramatic. What fans may not know is that Hyman was also a savvy and conscientious businesswoman who ran her own management and publishing company, and was passionate about Black empowerment and entrepreneurship. “I run a Black owned company, in other words it’s a minority-based company, most of my employees are Black or Hispanic,” Hyman told Ebony/Jet Showcase in 1987. “And I deliberately started that years ago because of the unfortunate dilemma of minorities in the workforce. And in the entertainment field where Blacks generate billions of dollars, we don’t often get the opportunity to reap the benefits from that money that we generate. And considering that I generate part of that billion, I’m gonna take it back to the community that put me here in the first place. It’s very important to me.”
In all of her transactions, Phyllis was firmly committed to hiring professionals of color at a time when few other Black artists were making that choice. She wanted to “fight the power,” and keep cash within the community, and was vocal in her business dealings and in interviews about her standards. In addition, she famously eschewed written contracts, saying “My word is my bond.” Her former business associates confirm that the singer never went back on her word. In full command of every aspect of her career, Hyman embodied the incipient spirit that we now know as “Black Girl Magic.”
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