Hewett is still working to make a name without Shalamar

October 09, 1990|By Nestor Aparicio | Nestor Aparicio,Evening Sun Staff

Some solo musicians can find commercial success very easily after being associated with a popular group.

For them, it's as easy as saying ''goodbye."

But for others, like soft-spoken Howard Hewett, formerly of the '80s post-funk band Shalamar, selling records and circulating his name has taken time.

Hewett, whose former sidekicks Jeffrey Daniels and Jody Watley have found much more recognition in the industry, performs at Martin's West Wednesday night.

Oddly enough, Hewett decided to self-title this album, partly to spread his name and partly because of what he calls the "feel" of the music.

"On the other two albums, 'Forever and Ever' and 'I Commit To Love,' there was a theme running through them that had to do with the title," Hewett said last week in a phone interview. "With this one, it took so long to do [more than a year] and had so many different attitudes and producers, the only thing I saw that was common was the feel of the vocals. My style stays the same throughout."

Indeed, Hewett's silky tenor shines evenly on songs like "Show Me" and "Let Me Show You How To Love," which typify the romantic mood of the entire work.

"Romance is alive and well," said Hewett, who is married to former "Fame" star and MTV "Block Party" hostess Nia Peoples. "To me, there is nothing like singing a love song for my companion."

In addition to songs about romantic love, Hewett also finds solace in inspirational freedom, in songs like "When Will It Be," which he recorded with Anita Baker, and gospel numbers like "Jesus."

On all three albums, Hewett has included a "song for the Lord," fulfilling a pact he said he made when he was a struggling musician.

"Those are the most important pieces of work I've ever done," said Hewett, who also has sung of Christ in "Say Amen" and "Goodbye Good Friend."

"I was raised in the church and I've found that even though you get older and you get into other things, you always come back to the Lord," Hewett said. "It's not a fad thing with me. I don't do it to get headlines or to be talked about. God led me from Point A to B to C and he will be there when I get to X, Y and Z."

But don't believe that Hewett is a hard-line prude. After singing innuendo songs in Shalamar like "Dancing In The Sheets" and "Dead Giveaway," that could hardly be the case.

Hewett said his 1983 split with Watley and Daniels "was really very cool" but their relationship has deteriorated since then.

"Once Jody got successful she surrounded herself with a lot of crazy people," Hewett said. "There are some things in life that you have control over, and one is your friends. You can't choose family, but friends are different. Since she had the hits a lot of weird stuff has surrounded her, and I haven't talked to her in two years."

As for Daniels, "we see each other at various functions, but we don't call each other."

Despite losing the original trio, Shalamar still exists with a different lineup and also has a new album called "Wake Up."

"I'm friendly with those people but I don't see them that often, either," Hewett said. "They live in the city and they are out partying all the time. I'm through with that. We moved 40 miles out into the country to get away from it."

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