Howard Hewett is one of the most talented soul singers of the past two decades. In group settings, as a guest vocalist and as a solo singer, Hewett’s virtually irresistible voice has wrapped itself around material of various qualities – turning good songs into great records and doing his best to save some of the lesser material with which he has sometimes been saddled as a solo artist.
Raised in Akron, Ohio, Hewett moved to Los Angeles and, after a period as a dancer on Soul Train, became a member of Shalamar, the centerpiece of Dick Griffey’s SOLAR (Sound of Los Angeles) label. His mellifluous tenor voice mixed beautifully with the bright vocals of Jody Watley and the writing and production of Leon Sylvers III, resulting in such top hits as “The Second Time Around,” “Full of Fire,” “Dead Giveaway” and “A Night to Remember,” as well as a number of underappreciated ballads, such as “You Can Count On Me” and “You’re the One for Me.”
When Shalamar broke up in the mid 1980s, Hewett went on to pursue a solo career. He signed with Elektra Records and recorded 1986’s I Commit To Love(R&B #12), a relatively solid urban album that yielded two R&B hits, “I’m For Real” (R&B #2) and “Stay” (R&B #8). The album also included “Say Amen”, a gospel tune that became a surprise hit on the Gospel charts and is Hewett’s signature song. Hewett contributed vocals to La Toya Jackson’s Hot 100 hit single “Heart Don’t Lie” in 1984.
In 1990, Hewett released a self-titled album, which included the hit “Show Me” (R&B #2), and 1992 saw the release of the LP Allegiance, which was not received as well as previous albums. He contributed to the second season theme song of “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” which was a remake of Sam & Dave’s R&B Top 10 hit “Soul Man”. This recording was produced by singer Steve Tyrell.
After 1995’s It’s Time, Hewett stopped recording solo, spending much of his time providing wonderful guest vocals on albums by jazz artists such as Joe Sample, Brian Culbertson, George Duke and Everett Harp and on several gospel albums. Then in 2001, he recorded his first all gospel album, The Journey, on Sony, followed a year later by The Journey Live: From the Heart. It was six years before his long-awaited R&B return on the album, If Only. He continues to tour in multi-artist shows around the world and to provide guest vocals on the albums of others.