Lost Gem Unvaulted: Howard Hewett and Roberta Flack created a “Light”


(August 22, 2022) While over the last couple of decades Howard Hewett has gained status as one of the great soul singers of our time, his post-Shalamar solo material wasn’t always recognized largely when initially released. To provide audiences with an opportunity to revisit these works more thoroughly, SoulMusic Records will issue a four-CD box set of his late-‘80s and early-‘90s albums on October 21.

I’m for Real — The Elektra Recordings 1986-1992 includes a handful of alternate mixes and rarities, in addition to the studio albums which produced hits such a “I’m for Real,” “Stay,” “Show Me,” and “If I Could Only Have That Day Back.”  Perhaps the most notable extra track is a non-album B-side which Hewett cut with Roberta Flack in 1986 entitled “Let Me Be a Light to Shine.”

That year, Flack recorded a segment of the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” for a Black History Month radio spot sponsored by Miller Beer. The full version (recorded at the same session) caught the attention of Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun. This resulted in a single release, with a specially recorded B-side co-written by Flack and producer Deborah McDuffie with James Ingram and Leon Pendarvis. McDuffie selected Hewett, who was in New York at the time, to sing the resulting “Let Me Be a Light to Shine.”

The reflective and uplifting ballad finds Hewett and Flack in flawless vocal tandem, each complementing one another’s strength and sensitivity on the poetic verses and anthemic choruses. With an arrangement that provides just enough fuel to truly let them shine without going over the top, the track is a moving moment of comfort and heart that sounds fresh and relevant 36 years after it was so quietly released.

Take a listen to Howard Hewett and Roberta Flack’s “Let Me Be a Light to Shine,” as featured on SoulMusic Records’ upcoming Howard Hewett box set!

by Justin Kantor

Howard Hewett and Roberta Flack
“Let Me Be A Light To Shine”

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