Today in Music History (October 21): Howard Hewett goes solo

October 21, 1986 – Howard Hewett goes solo

During the turn of the decade and for the first half of the 1980s, the group Shalamar was red hot, utilizing the production of Leon Sylvers to create a run of great hits that still stand up beautifully four decades later. And with their dance moves and vocal talent, they became the vocal trio of the time in R&B.

But group members Howard Hewett, Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel just weren’t getting along, and after 1983’s brilliant album, The Look, Watley and Daniel bolted. Hewett remained as the Alpha of a reconstituted version for the next couple years, but by 1986 he was ready for his emancipation, which he found on October 21 of that year with his solo debut album I Commit To Love, on Elektra Records.

October 21, 1986 – Howard Hewett goes solo

During the turn of the decade and for the first half of the 1980s, the group Shalamar was red hot, utilizing the production of Leon Sylvers to create a run of great hits that still stand up beautifully four decades later. And with their dance moves and vocal talent, they became the vocal trio of the time in R&B.

But group members Howard Hewett, Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel just weren’t getting along, and after 1983’s brilliant album, The Look, Watley and Daniel bolted. Hewett remained as the Alpha of a reconstituted version for the next couple years, but by 1986 he was ready for his emancipation, which he found on October 21 of that year with his solo debut album I Commit To Love, on Elektra Records.

In retrospect, a Hewett solo album was just a matter of time. He is one of the most talented soul singers of the past four decades, with a virtually irresistible tenor voice that has wrapped itself around both strong and less strong material, elevating it all.

I Commit To Love was a great solo introduction for Hewett, yielding two Soul smashes, "I'm For Real" and "Stay." The album also included glorious Hewett composition "Say Amen," the first of several gospel numbers (typically one per album) that he would include with his otherwise secular work.

Hewett had several more hits over the next few years, including his biggest in 1990’s “Show Me,” but became more of a touring artist after the turn of the century. He also reunited with Jeffrey Daniel and, with Carolyn Griffey (daughter of former SOLAR honcho, Dick Griffey) to reconstitute a new version of Shalamar that tours regularly to this day.

By Chris Rizik

 
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