The story and struggle of singer Phyllis Hyman is brought to light in the powerful new biography STRENGTH OF A WOMAN: The Phyllis Hyman Story (JAM Books; trade paperback; September 4, 2007) by Jason A. Michael. Hyman’s 20-year career, which included the release of eight albums and a Tony nomination and Theatre World Award for her Broadway turn in Sophisticated Ladies, was brought to a tragic end by her suicide June 30, 1995, just hours before she was due to take the stage at the legendary Apollo Theatre.
In the spotlight, Hyman’s breathtaking voice and stunning beauty shone brightly. But off stage, after the applause and the laughter produced by her bawdy humor had faded, Hyman spent her days and nights engaged in an exhausting battle against bipolar disorder. Complicating its crippling effects was Hyman’s addiction to drugs and alcohol (which she tried repeatedly to kick) as well as the demands and constraints of being a female African-American entrepreneur in an industry controlled by white men.
Though she ultimately chose to extricate herself from the pain of her disease, she left behind a legacy of beautiful music that will live on forever as a true testament to the Strength of a Woman.