For a generation of music fans, the center of R&B music was the City of Brotherly Love, and it is impossible to muse on Philadelphia’s run of musical greatness without pausing to admire the work of singer, songwriter and producer Phil Hurtt. The Philly native quietly put his imprint on dozens of the most recognizable songs of the 1970s and 80s.
Hurtt’s contributions as a songwriter are immense. The Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around,” The Persuaders’ “Some Guys Have All The Luck,” “Sunshine” by The O’Jays, as well as hits for The Ritchie Family, Sister Sledge, The Village People, Billy Paul and more, all came from Hurtt’s pen. His success in the late 70s led to a nomination by Billboard as Disco Composer of the Year.
Hurtt also worked in the studio with such acts as Blue Magic, Jean Carn, and Eddie Kendricks before signing a recording contract of his own with Fantasy Records in 1977. He recorded two albums for the label in the late 70s that have become collectors’ items among deep soul and dance fans.
Hurtt spent the 90s focusing on Gospel music, and produced several artists in that genre. Then in 2007, he created an ambitious project to pay tribute to the biggest musical cities of the 60s (Detroit) and 70s (Philadelphia). Titled A Soulful Tale of Two Cities, it had some of the biggest Motown acts performing new versions of Philly classics, and vice versa. The project served as a love-in for classic soul artists of the two cities and became a cherished collection internationally.
Hurtt continues to serve as a music ambassador for Philadelphia soul music, and is revered by generations of musical artists, many of whom have covered his biggest compositions.
By Chris Rizik