Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story

Review by Addison Scott

She was called the Goddess of Love, but the name didn't fit her. At least, Phyllis Hyman didn't really feel that it did, we learn in reading her biography, Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story ($16.95; trade paperback from JAM Books). Hyman was a breathtaking beauty with, as author Jason A. Michael puts it, "the voice satin and stardust." She was also a woman who spent much of her life in deep emotional pain. It crippled her and, in the end, brought about her fall.

But never fret. While you might need a hanky to get through some of the darker chapters in Hyman's life, particularly the last one, there is more, much more, to her story than sadness. Hyman's gut-busting sense of humor is on full display here, and all the risque rowdiness that was a patented part of any Phyllis Hyman show is thrown in for good measure. All and all, Strength Of A Woman is a well-rounded treat.

Most fascinating to this reviewer was finding out just how close to superstardom Hyman came. Oh, to folks in the know she's already a superstar. But in Strength we learn that Hyman had her toe on the threshold to full-out "first name only" success time and time again. From the chance to star in the film version of The Color Purple as Shug Avery to the opportunity to tour with Bill Cosby, Hyman had her chances. Ultimately, though, her crippling insecurities prohibited her from crossing that line and letting herself go.

If the reader will mourn at moments for what could have been, most of the time spent reading this book will be dedicated to simply reliving just how fabulous Hyman already was.

Written by Jason A. Michael

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