Soul Serenade: Eddie Holman, “Hey There Lonely Girl”
Wikipedia says that falsetto is “the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave.” The history of soul music is filled with examples of singers who have employed the falsetto style to create classic records. Names like Smokey Robinson, Eddie Kendricks, and William Hart leap to mind, and well they should. Those guys were responsible for an awful lot of great records.
The history of soul music is also filled with the unsung heroes, the artists who had one or two hits and are not well remembered by the general public. Eddie Holman falls into that category. He is certainly fondly recalled by soul music aficionados, but history has placed him in the one-hit-wonder category. But that’s hardly fair given the number of hits he actually had. Still, the one he is remembered for is one that any artist would be proud to claim.
Holman was born in Norfolk, and raised in New York. He first set foot on the stage of the Apollo Theater for amateur night at the age of 10. He won the competition that night, and the offers starting coming in soon after. He sang on Broadway, and at Carnegie Hall. A few years later, in 1962, he made his first record.
When Holman was a teenager, his family moved to Philadelphia, and after college it as a part of the burgeoning Philly soul scene that he really began to develop his style. He had his first hit in 1965 with “This Can’t Be True.” Others followed including “Am I A Loser From the Start” in 1966, and “I Love You” in 1969. Then came the big one.
“Hey There Lonely Girl”, featuring an aching falsetto vocal from Holman, was released by ABC Records in 1969 and reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1970. The song was written by Leon Carr and Earl Shuman, and the record was produced by Peter DeAngeles, who was best known for his work with teen idols Frankie Avalon and Fabian. The million-selling record was far and away Holman’s biggest hit. What most people don’t remember is that Holman’s record was a cover of a song called “Hey There Lonely Boy” that was released by Ruby and the Romantics in 1963.
Eddie Holman had a few more hits and then devoted his life to being a Baptist minister. He is still living in Philadelphia, where he owns his own record label (Agape Records), and spends a lot of time working as a volunteer, reaching out to those in need. He also continues to tour with the Eddie Holman Band, and is one of the artists that you’re likely to see, his soaring falsetto still intact, on one of those PBS oldies specials.