A Soul Music Legend
Howard Hewett first came to know success as a member of the group Shalamar with hits such as “Second Time Around” “A Night to Remember” and many others. In 1986, he embarked on a solo career where he scored hits such as the romantic classics “I’m For Real” “Show Me” and his show stopping foray into spirituality “Say Amen.” Data News Weekly recently had the chance to speak with him during a stop in New Orleans where he performed his grown and sexy show to a packed house.
A Soulful Journey
With a career spanning decades, many know the songs but they do not know much about the man with the golden voice that continues to captivate audiences with his unique brand of soul. “I started out in Akron, Ohio we had a gospel group called the Hewett Singers with myself and three of my sisters; where I was the lead singer; my mom was a professional gospel promoter in the Akron/Canton/Cleveland area. We opened for all the major gospel singers,” recalling the beginning of his singing career at age 10.
Later moving on to R&B, eventually landing in Los Angeles singing at the legendary Maverick’s Flat in the Crenshaw District, playing in several bands touring Europe and Asia before joining Shalamar. “I met Jeffrey and Jody there, because a lot of the Soul Train dancers would be there. On any given night, you might see Richard Pryor there, Lionel Richie or Chaka Khan or members of Earth Wind and Fire. I was singing in a group called Beverly Hills. Jeffrey heard me sing before Shalamar was formed. By the time, I returned from touring Jeffrey approached me about joining the group because Gary Mumford went back to singing gospel. Later, I was working with producers at Motown but I wasn’t signed to them. Shalamar had the hit “Take That to the Bank” which Gerald Brown sang lead on. Then Gerald left the group out on the road without a lead singer. My first wife worked for Don Cornelius and knew Jeffrey and he called me at Motown and said we want to offer you an equal position and being the lead singer in Shalamar and the rest is history.”
My Love for New Orleans, New Music and Shalamar Reunion
Hewett is a regular in New Orleans, bringing his show to the Crescent City where he has legions of loyal fans. “I have a love affair with New Orleans. It is just the whole vibe of New Orleans; it really stands out to me and is an amazing and special place.” Continuing to speak of his show he says with a hint of slyness in his voice, “I enjoy interacting with my audience. I especially enjoy interacting with my female fans.”
He says he is recording new material both as a solo artist and with Shalamar reuniting with original member Jeffrey Daniel and adding the Singer Carol Griffey into the mix. “I am working on a new album, but now it is back to a singles market, so I don’t know when I will put the complete album out, but I will be putting out singles soon.” Continuing he says, “I’ve always enjoyed collaborating, so I am working with Joyce Irby from the group Klymaxx, we finally got back together and we have something coming out soon and I’ve worked with Leon Sylvers who did all the early Shalamar stuff and I also worked on this new Shalamar stuff featuring myself, Jeffrey Daniel and Carol Griffey. It is a very cool song like Shalamar for 2017.”
Inside the Soul and the Meaning of Life
After years of commercial success and touring, music is only a part of what gives this man who started his love affair with music in the church. He says it is his spirituality and his children that continues to guide him and gives his life purpose and meaning. “I remember when my first child was born I saw life come into her and it changed my life forever and it gave me direction and purpose. Today, my three daughters and a son are all grown up and we have a very special and close relationship. I have been married three times, but I fought to keep them all together; staying in contact with one another. Life itself gives me meaning and purpose every time I wake up giving me one more day to get it right. I have been blessed; singing since I was 10 years old, and helping people get through something and enhancing their lives. When people come up to me and say how the song “Say Amen” has changed their lives, I know that God blessed me to create this song and many others throughout my career. Throughout my life, I have stayed true to myself, my family and my music and this is why I have survived not only the music industry but life and its many challenges.”