This Day in Black History: July 6, 1949

R&B singer and actress Phyllis Hyman was born.

Posted: 07/06/2013 07:00 AM EDT

 (Photo: David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

On July 6, 1949, actress and R&B songstress Phyllis Hyman was born in Philadelphia.

Known for her silky, blues-infused vocals, Hyman began her singing career with the group New Direction in 1971. After the group disbanded, she worked briefly with several Miami groups before leading the group Phyllis Hyman & the PH Factor. Two years later she relocated to New York City where her career began to blossom. She released her first solo album, Phyllis Hyman, in 1977 and signed with Arista Records one year later.

She would go on to have several hits break the R&B top 20, including "Somewhere in My Lifetime" and "You Know How to Love Me," and worked with musical talent such as Barry Manilow, the Four Tops and jazz pianist McCoy Tyner. She also appeared on stage and in film; for two years, she stared in Broadway's Sophisticated Ladies, earning a Tony Award and Theatre World Award for her performance. Her film credits include Lenny (1974) and Spike Lee's School Daze (1988).

Hyman was said to have struggled with substance abuse and depression during periods of her life. Tragically, on June 30, 1995, she committed suicide by a lethal combination of sedatives. She was 45.

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