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Phyllis Hyman – In Between the Heartaches – Soul of a Diva – CDEXCL6

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April 25th, 2011

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Price: £12.50

Track listing:

1. Love Surrounds Us Everywhere (with McCoy Tyner)
2. If You Ever Change Your Mind (previously unissued)
3. Hottest Love Around (previously unissued)
4. Do You Love Him (previously unissued)
5. Sleep On It (previously unissued)*
6. I Can’t Live Without You
7. Soon Come Again (Extended Mix)
8. In Between The Heartaches (previously unissued)
9. In Search of My Heart (with McCoy Tyner)
10. Sacred Kind of Love (with Grover Washington )
11. Magic Mona
12. Don’t Tell Me, Tell Her (Alternative version)
13. Be One
14. Everything I Have Is Good (with Phaorah Saunders & Norman Connors)
15. Springs Arrival (with Jon Lucien)
16. I’ll Be Around (with McCoy Tyner)

Profile:

Introduction by Michael A. Grimaldi

When approached by Expansion Records of England earlier this year, asking my
assistance in the compilation of a Phyllis Hyman collection, many revelations
immediately came to mind.

I had always anticipated embarking on such an endevour, but had wondered, should
this ever become a reality…. what tracks would it consist of, and what would
my liner notes relay to her many fans around the globe. Well, the time has come,
but in all fairness and truth, there are far too many memories, both on and
off the road, which need to be addressed. Thoughts which cannot necessarily
be commented on, nor contained within the confines of the CD booklet exclusively.
Peering through the window of lost time, and what now seems like an entire lifetime
ago, has returned and beckoned me to write. I’m quick to realize that with a
blink of an eye, so much time has since lapsed from our (Phyllis Hyman and myself)
initial encounter. The same can also be said of the time factor stemming forward,
since Phyllis’ passing.

It’s often been asked how I got my initial start in the music business professionally,
as a Manager and Producer. I always revert back to that particular story which
always comes to mind. One which I’m sure, I’ve told many times over throughout
the years, as most of my closest friends will atest to. Funny enough, every
time I repeat it, a smile always comes to my face, I then find myself laughing
aloud. It was one of those scenearios that you really had to be there for, in
order to appreciate the humour and dynamics of the situation. I can still picture
the look on Phyllis Hyman’s face as the whole episode unfolded… just as if
it just happened yesterday. It was as much unexpected, as it was impromptu.

Phyllis Hyman had just drawn to a close, her second-set, from her ‘LIVING
ALL ALONE’ concert, one extremely dismal December evening, back in 1986.
December 12th, 1986 to be exact. We had already been friends for approximately
three years, originally having met during her GODDESS OF LOVE tour, while she
was touring with Frankie Beverley & Maze, during the Summer of 1983 (at
Shea’s Theatre), located in Buffalo , New York . Phyllis at the time, had been
performing at the legendary Tralfamadore Cafe, also ironically located within
the heart of of Buffalo ‘s reknowned Theatre District. She had been anticipating
my arrival from Toronto to Buffalo for a few days and was excited to hear my
comments about the newly added production to the band and the inclusion of new
material, in her recently revised show. Phyllis’ live shows, from the very begining
of her career, were choreographed by a well reknowned New Yorker. In passing,
amidst one of our ongoing conversations, Phyllis conceeded that hiring a choreographer
was one of the best things she could have ever done for herself with respect
to professionally dramatizing and enhancing the appearance of her live performances.

Creating and delivering a tight, but highly polished show was a driving force
behind Phyllis’ consideration in the utiliziation of a choreographer. She would
forever build on what had initially been established and would continue to infuse
higher levels of energy and body movement into that ultimate diva stage personna
which Phyllis would forever be reknowned. These factors would continue to grow
to the point of fruition, as any who had attended her live performances would
come to know. Something most of her fans would one day have a chance to witness
for themselves. Commanding audience attention, caressing her microphone and
standing as statueque and pouty-lipped as only Phyllis Hyman could… and of
course singing. Singing the best love songs ever written and as only she could
convey. Phyllis could ‘Hyman-ize’ any song she felt was worthy of
interpreting. After all, Phyllis Hyman was The Goddess of Love, and The Goddess
of Broken Hearts. When asked once, why it was that she tended to record and
sing so many ballads, all which focused on ‘lost loves’ or ‘relationships
gone wrong’, she eagerly replied ‘that’s what I know best’. She
truly was speaking from her heart’s personal recollections.

Although we were considerably new friends, like clockwork, Phyllis had ensured
that my usual complimentary tickets to see her shows, along with accompanying
backstage passes, would be awating my arrival at the Will-Call Booth. Regardless
of what city or state she was performing in, this wonderful gesture seemed to
become the norm, as a gift from her to me. From her very first insistance to
do this for me, I had this intuitive feeling that we were going to be very close
friends. Time would prove to be correct. It was quite obvious that Phyllis would
constantly go out of her way for me when she knew that I wanted to see one of
her shows, or when I simply wished to spend some personal, quality time, together
with her. She had often affectionately referred to me as an innovator, and one
whom always kept positive energy surrounding myself.

Positive energy was always appreciated by Phyllis, as she had confessed to
me that this energy would in return, come back full circle, which inturn was
the hidden force to keep her moving forward with a correct, but driven attitude.
Phyllis was a firm believer that by surrounding herself with positive energy,
would always draw the same back to herself. I had always felt that this was
the reason we were in sync and well suited for one another’s company.

Having completed her two shows, she had left the stage area and had headed
toward her dressing room, leaving a room full of audience members clapping and
in the middle of a standing ovation. I myself being one of the first, had arrived
at her dressing room door shortly thereafter her arrival. No sooner had I arrived,
when I noticed that there must have been at least thirty fans and well-wishers
standing behind me outside the door, all clammoring for autographs, with the
hopes of engaging with Phyllis in conversation. Most of which managed to somehow
get in front of me. Realizing that I am now buried in the centre of the crowd,
I kept thinking to myself, that the reality of getting closer to the door is
going to be a mission all of its own. With that thought having just having left
my mind, the door swiftly opens approximately one quarter of the way. Phyllis
steps into view and says aloud, ‘Where’s Michael?’. The crowd’s tone
had deminished to virtually a mere whisper momentarily, allowing Phyllis to
speak. No sooner did I respond ‘here I am!’, when this loud voice
shouted out over the many heads in the crowd ‘you left your things in here’.
Having spotted me, one in a of sea of faces… and nowhere near the entrance
to the room, I suddenly replyed ‘no I didn’t!’ No sooner had I answered,
when all at once, she stretched out her arm and managed to grab my shoulder,
then yanked me by the collar. She then yelled ‘get in here!’, while
simultaneously pulling me into the dressing room and slamming the door shut.
As I stood there in front of her with my back to the doorway, she was already
in the process of giving me my first assignment. Her comments to me were ‘your
friends are welcome backstage, but I have nothing to say to those people out
there. Here’s a pad and a pen. Get out there and get me a list of names of people
who want autographs. Bring the list back to me and in the meantime, I’ll begin
to sign my name on these photos. I’ll just insert the people’s names on the
top of the 8X10’s afterwards, once you get them for me!’ The dressing
room door opened once again, as I was phylically catapulted out of the room
by Phyllis and into the crowd of fans for the task at hand. Once again, the
door quickly slammed shut.

Unassumingly, I found myself answering many questions on Phyllis’ behalf, also.
Now in the far distance and with clear hindsight, it only seemed natural to
become Manager in the music business. Although I had never been apart of Phyllis
Hyman’s team officially, one would never have known it, as I was always considered
one of the family. Although it was unspoken, but clear, Phyllis had ensured
that our friendship was an understood facit within the immediate circle of her
bandmembers and security personnel. The rest of our thirteen year relationship
would prove to be a positive, yet intense one. One which to date, remains incomparible
to any other, yet trancends the boundaries of time. Memories that will forever
speak for themselves, on both a personal and professional level. As flattering
as it may have been, it wasn’t always easy having Phyllis Hyman as a personal
tutor.

Having worked an extremely long day, late into the evening on that particular
June 30th, 1995 , I arrived at my residence at approximately 1:00am (the morning
of July 1st). No sooner had I entered my home, when the flashing lights on my
answering machine caught my eye. My immediate observation was that there were
an unusual amount of accumulated messages waiting to be heard. It was obvious
to me, just by the intensity of the flashes, while concluding that anyone who
desired to speak with me during the course of the day simply could have chosen
reach me via my cell phone. Upon clearing my machine, the first message was
from my long time friend and business associate, Toronto born, Jazz singer Vincent
Wolfe. His message to me simply requested that, regardless of what I may have
already heard, that I were to contact him first, prior to calling anyone else.
Having no clue as to what he was referring to, I moved onward to the second
caller whom was none other than Jean Carne, The Songstress Extrodinare, herself.
Jean was also quite vague in the details she had chosen to leave within her
message, and certainly was not her usual cheery self. She specified that ‘no
matter what time I got in that evening, I was to give her a call’, and,
‘that it was a very important matter’. She definately wanted to speak
to me prior to my turning in that evening. With my curiosity now peaked, the
next caller was Alyson Williams. She and I had befriended one another in the
Summer of ’94, during a surprise Birthday Party that I had thrown for Phyllis
and myself, in Detroit , Michigan.

It was also a well-known fact that Phyllis Hyman was Alyson’s mentor, and that

they too, were good friends. When speaking with Alyson during the course of
that morning, she frantically explained that ‘she had some news… rather
unpleasant news’, and continued to explain to me just how it came to her
attention that Phyllis had passed away. Alyson then relayed to me that she had
been requested to fill in for Phyllis Hyman at the Appolo Theater, in New York
City , at the very last minute. To complicate things even further, the Promoter
of that evenings function at the Apollo, was oblivious to the fact that only
Alyson’s band remained in New York City at that time, but that she herself was
in Texas , having already moved on ahead for the next gig on her roster. The
incidents transpiring from this point onward could only be summized as a modern
day drama. Truly a night I will never forget. A written biography of Phyllis
Hyman’s life has been repeatedly proposed of me to author, and to date remains
a consideration.

Since Phyllis’ passing, many of her belongings have since been sorted out and
given to selected friends and family members to enjoy as personal mementos of
the singer. Much to my dismay, I found it odd to observe that most individuals
who were offered belongings of Phyllis’, expressed initial interest in her clothing
apparrel, such as her stellar hats, numerous pairs of shoes and of course, her
many pieces of oversized jewellery which she wore with such pride and elegance.

My personal interpretation of Phyllis Hyman’s life and legacy, consists soley
of her music. Her capability of evoking such strong emotions as passion, tears
and certainly, the joy of having found love. Heartfelt messages that would transcend
all current music trends and time itself, touching the hearts of all who would
lend an ear. In my eyes, it was not necessarily what she once possessed materialistically
here on Earth during her short stay, that was of value… it was her music.
While I am very proud to admit to owning some of her possessions, as she so
lovingly and graciously game me throughout the years, it’s her music which remains
the forefront of the hearts and souls of her fan base. It is for that very reason,
many of her demo recordings (both old and new) have been surfacing and occassionally
passed on to me. All were given in the hopes that I would someday make these
rarities available commercially, for all to enjoy.

Selecting tracks for this venture proved to be the most difficult thing to
determine, given the limited amount of time to work with on a CD. While there
are still quite a few vault tracks not included within this compilation, Expansion
Records of England have chosen a few of these gems which had been left in the
best condition, and of which the dymanics were originally mastered to the highest
level of professionalism. There are however, still many cuts left incomplete,
unpolished which are in dire need of continued production and/ or mastering
of sorts. They remain in the form of quarter inch Reel-to Reel Studio Tapes,
Chromium Cassette Recordings and Studio Acetate Records. The overall quality
of each selection on this compilation, was the most important factor when having
to make final decisions. All tracks have been digitally enhanced and remasterd
to the highest standard possible, considering the state of the original source
recordings. Again, with respect to any remaining unreleased and omitted tracks,
they require attention on other levels and can only be salvaged limitedly. The
level at which Phyllis Hyman’s vocals were mastered and cued, during one of
her two demo recordings of ‘Love Is That One Time Feeling’ (which
was not included within this set), can only be described as sporadic and inconsistant,
at best. The fast/ disco version of the song opens with a studio technician
performing his countdown to the initial begining of the song’s intro.

Disappointiingly, Phyllis’ opening vocals are only recorded at half the volume
level of the instrumental arrangement itself. However, by the onset of the second
verse, both factors begin to balance-out to a more respectable consistancy.
This is just one of the many tribulations which had to be dealt with in our
determination of just what tracks would be utilized on this quintesential collection.

I hope and pray that God will allow our Angel, Phyllis Hyman, to remain singing
in the hearts and souls of all people, for eternity. For people on Earth and
for those whom dwell within all of the Heavens. Phyllis Hyman sincerely believed
that music was the common denominator and the universal language of all mankind.
A message she continues to convey whenever someone listens to any one of her
multiple masterpieces.

Michael A. Grimaldi

Producer & Soul Music Archivist

The Other Artists’ Entertainment 2003

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