Peabo Bryson: "I'm Getting Stronger By The Day"

(Update May 8, 2019) Soul music fans around the world have been praying for the great Peabo Bryson since it was announced last week that he had suffered a heart attack. So it was great news to see his post this morning on his Facebook page, where he is sitting in a hospital chair with his child:

 THANK YOU to all of you for coming together and praying for me!!! I know and understand that we have a choice in this world and when I needed everyone the most, everyone came to together and said a prayer for my health and for that... I THANK YOU with a full heart of love and my family THANK YOU too!! I’m getting stronger by the day! 

We'll continue to be sending all the best thoughts and prayers to Peabo, as he continues his recovery.

 

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(Update May 8, 2019) Soul music fans around the world have been praying for the great Peabo Bryson since it was announced last week that he had suffered a heart attack. So it was great news to see his post this morning on his Facebook page, where he is sitting in a hospital chair with his child:

 THANK YOU to all of you for coming together and praying for me!!! I know and understand that we have a choice in this world and when I needed everyone the most, everyone came to together and said a prayer for my health and for that... I THANK YOU with a full heart of love and my family THANK YOU too!! I’m getting stronger by the day! 

We'll continue to be sending all the best thoughts and prayers to Peabo, as he continues his recovery.

 

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(April 29, 2019) Legendary soul balladeer Peabo Bryson has suffered a heart attack at his home in Atlanta, according to Atlanta Fox 5. Bryson was reportedly rushed to Atlanta hospital over the weekend, where quick work by the medical team has led to a stable condition and great optimism for a speedy recovery. A Bryson representative told Fox 5 that Mr. Bryson is awake and responsive. His Facebook page has posted the tag #PrayForPeabo.

The South Carolina born Bryson has created an amazingly long-lasting career since the early 1970s.While in his early 20s he worked with producer Michael Zager's band ("Let's All Chant") and recorded as a solo artist while writing with other artists at Bang/Bullet Records such as Paul Davis.  His Bullet Records debut, Peabo, was a moderate success and contained one notable song, "Just Another Day" (a dead ringer for the Spinners' "How Could I Let You Get Away").

It was his next album, Reaching for the Sky (and its oft-covered hit, "Feel The Fire"), that took Peabo to the top of the male R&B vocalist class.  His follow up, 1978's Crosswinds, solidified that position and gave him his biggest hit to date, "I'm So Into You."  In both albums he demonstrated himself as a smooth soul balladeer and a solid writer, with his rich baritone wrapping itself around mostly "quiet storm" material.  1979 brought a very good duet album with Natalie Cole, the first of several duet partners with whom he would work, and a moderate crossover hit, "Gimme Some Time."  After the less successful Paradise album in 1980, Peabo made a surprising move, issuing an album of previously unreleased material from his Bang days, Turn the Hands of Time.  While it included a few good songs, it became his second disappointing solo sales effort in a row.

With Peabo's slipping R&B sales and virtually no visibility on the pop charts, Capitol Records made a successful effort to obtain large crossover success for his next release.  I Am Love, while still solidly set in the soul music world, contained "Let the Feeling Flow," Peabo's first crossover hit.  And his 1983 duet album with Roberta Flack, the pure adult contemporary Tonight I Celebrate My Love, blew the roof off, yielding four hits and moving him to a leading role in the AC market.  However, this crossover success came at a price, as the increasingly adult pop sound of his records (especially the singles) threatened his longtime soul music base.  This continued with his next album, Straight From the Heart (his first on Elektra Records), a crossover smash that included the number one pop song of the year, Michael Masser's "If Ever You're In My Arms Again."

Bryson continued to release albums prolifically for a few more years, but found limited success on both the R&B and pop charts, as his material became less distinctive and compelling.  Then his career found an unexpected boost: In 1991 he released the single "Can You Stop the Rain," arguably the best song of his career and his first #1 R&B hit in several years.  It anchored a solid album of the same name.  He then hit the top of the pop charts twice on themes from two consecutive Disney animated smashes, "Beauty and the Beast" (with Celine Dion) and "A Whole New World" (from Aladdin)with Regina Belle. 

While the big hits slowed down in the new century, Bryson continued to record and tour regularly. He scored a surprise hit last year working with Jam & Lewis on the album Stand For Love, a terrific album that also boasted a #1 UAC hit.

It would be tough to find a male artist who has straddled as many fences throughout his career as Peabo Bryson -- from R&B to pop to smooth jazz to theater -- while always maintaining a consistent identity as a gentle, romantic balladeer.  He undoubtedly possesses one of the greatest voices of his generation and has continuously made even less than stellar material rise to a higher level.  And in the process he has deservedly accumulated millions of fans who look forward to his releases more than four decades after he began.

SoulTrackers will be praying for a full and speedy recovery for Peabo Bryson, and hoping that he’ll be back on stage soon.

by Chris Rizik

 
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