Phyllis Hyman & Billy Preston Promote Blues Bar (September 1994)
Bar, a stage play starring Phyllis Hyman and Billy Preston, made its
way to Dallas, TX in September 1994. This video includes Phyllis singing
"I Refuse To Be Lonely," plus an impromptu performance of "Nothing From
Nothing" by both Billy and Phyllis.
Phyllis Hyman's friend/manager Glenda Gracia talks about the suicide
Walid and Richard have shared with me that many of you would like to know "Why Phyllis killed herself ..."
This question has been asked of me time and time again. I always respond
with the short answer, which is : only Phyllis *really* knows why she
However, for those of you who may be able to relate to my *feelings*
about what her motivations were, I will share my feelings with you...
First, let me start by saying that within two hours after Phyllis'
death, she visited me in my office. When I heard her laughing, I asked
her the very question you have asked me --- to which she responded
"Because no one believed that I would." I then asked her, "But, do you
see all of the chaos and confusion that your death has created?" She
said, "Handle it!" Then she giggled and left as suddenly as she arrived.
Phyllis had a philosophy about life, death and her body. Simply, she
felt that because it was her life, it was also her death. Because it was
her body, she had the right to do with it as she chose, including
leaving it behind when she was ready to.
Although she was not a member of the Hemlock Society, she was very clear
that suicide was indeed an option for those whose lives could not be
managed successfully because there was just too much pain : emotionally,
physically and spiritually.
About ten years ago, Phyllis was diagnosed as being "bi-polar", a
medical term for someone who suffers from the dis-ease of
manic-depression. As she got older, her dis-ease became more and more
difficult for her to manage. She elected not to use pharmaceutical
medication. She elected to self medicate. Her self medication distorted
her dis-ease more and more, until she felt helpless about ever being
able to recover from it.
Phyllis was an extremely complex person. She had many, many layers to
her personality. But, at the root of everything was her most basic need :
love --- to both give and receive love.
She could love in a very deep, deep way. She had the capacity to love so
deeply that she would become empathic --- meaning, that she was so
sensitive that she could actually *feel* the feelings and the pain of
others. Although she never considered herself to be *psychic* per se,
her sensitivity was such that she experienced telepathy, pre-cognition
and generally speaking, the paranormal environment in a way that did not
allow her to be easily understood by others. As a consequence, she
experienced frustration and oftentimes enormous agony when she knew that
she *saw* something happening before it happened and no one would
When she *saw* distortions in the world, she would feel so much pain
from these distortions that she could literally detach herself from
everyone for days so that she could recover/heal from the experience.
For example, when the Oklahoma bombings occurred, the death of the
children, in particular, so disturbed her that she was out of commission
for a week!
Phyllis' pain was personal and global. She had carried it around with her since childhood, as do most of us.
It is important to note that she had attempted suicide twice before she actually committed suicide. Because
she and I talked about suicide as an option to living a painful life, I
was not surprised by her death. I was and am still very sorrowful that
she actually made the decision to ascend June 30, 1995. I really miss
Stay in the Light and Love,