On June 30, 1995 excitement overflowed for those who had tickets at the nights performance in the famed Apollo Theatre, located in one of America’s most famous neighborhoods. It was little wonder. Thirty days prior, in Emeryville, California, a crossroads of a city in the San Francisco Bay, I sat in the front row with three of my closest friends, trapped in the beauty, the melody and the crumbling world of the late great Phyllis Hyman. Her voice was so pure, it may have been perfection, if only she understood. Each song was a full-length novel. A broadway show within themselves, all of which were showstopping numbers. They would capture your emotions, and only release when she was ready to let them go. If magic had a singular moment, it was in her pitch-perfect whistling of the magnificent Living All Alone.
The venues where she performed were often sold out, but she would not find happiness within the adoring crowds, for her sights were set on coliseums and football stadiums, never giving credence to how fortune had smile upon her. She would dismiss them as failures, never savoring the fruits of her rewards. Her mainstream attempts, would never take off. Forever a wounded singer, unhappy living in the shadows of Whitney and Madonna. But to the fans that knew her music, she was our biggest star. And not until her untimely death, would we ever make a connection, that her ballads were desperate, lonely songs.
With just hours before the curtains scheduled rise, Miss Phyllis Hyman would lose the final battle, giving into the voices of doom, committing suicide in a desolate hotel room, after banishing the beautiful thoughts of the thousands who loved her, and were preparing for one of the world’s great shows.
Overflowing by Ivy Soul does not exist on the same musical plane as a Phyllis Hyman song (excluding her final studio album I Refuse to Be Lonely, which was more of a suicide note. than a musical recording), but that is exactly the point of this post. Overflowing struts the fine line, between an adult contemporary classic and a song that may simply pass through listeners’ ears (not memorable, but not channel changing either). But if you did take a pass, give it a second chance and you may discover a hidden jewel. Not just in the captivating groove of its melody, or the Anita Baker-like sound of her voice, but in her zest of life. Her love of her artistry blooms, as she loses herself in the emotion of performing a song she feels, and dances like the world already knows who she is. The success of this tune, lies as much with the power of the energy, self-belief and I-am-proud-of-who-I- be, as it does with its engaging charm and body-swaying melody.
Ivy Soul appears to be doing, what many of us, find difficult to do – enjoying life’s journey, celebrating each stop. I have no doubt that her career goals are set at a much higher level, but win or lose, she is having a great time and enjoying the ride.
Overflowing may be hard pressed to land at the top of Billboard’s charts, but humor me in a game of what-ifs. What if Phyllis Hyman had stood in the sand and stared into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and Ivy Soul was performing Overflowing just a few feet away. What if she had been affected by this unknown artist, whose career is just getting started, but found happiness in every milestone What if she had accepted that success is relative and that the dizzying heights reached by the late great Whitney Houston, did not automatically provide the type of happiness that Ms. Hyman perceived it would. What if an ordinary woman, singing an unknown song, without any guarantee that anyone would even hear it, yet delivers a performance as if she were already queen, would Phyllis had realized that inner peace was the antidote to depression, and that the journey is what makes reaching the goal so sweet?
Depression is a brutal child. She blows in like the wind, invisible, but deadly nonetheless. But she can be beat. Celebrate the little things, on second thought, celebrate everything, and perhaps you will discover the importance of believing in your own beauty, just like an Ivy Soul song.
– a song review by thepublicblogger