Raised in Akron, Ohio, Hewett moved to Los Angeles. He would eventually meet Soul Train dancer and future first wife Rainey Riley-Cunningham, then a secretary of the show's creator and original host Don Cornelius. It was he who introduced Hewett to fellow Soul Train dancers Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel, and their group, Shalamar, was born. The trio is best known for songs such as "Second Time Around", "A Night to Remember", "Dancing in the Sheets" and the ballad "This Is For The Lover In You". Hewett was the group's lead singer from 1979 until 1985.
When Shalamar broke up in the mid 1980s, Hewett went on to pursue a solo career. In 1986 Hewett was arrested and indicted in Miami with his fiance Mori Molina for possession with an intent to distribute cocaine. Hewitt subsequently married Molina who was convicted and served prison time. Hewett was then acquitted of the charges. 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 (released by Expansion Records in the UK), Hewett stopped recording solo, spending much of his time providing guest vocals on albums by jazz artists such as Joe Sample, Brian Culbertson, and George Duke, among others. In 2000, The Rippingtons featured Hewett on "I Found Heaven" on their "Life in the Tropics" album. In 2001, Hewett recorded his first full gospel album, The Journey, followed a year later by The Journey Live: From the Heart.
In October 2006, Hewett released a new single, "Enough" (with jazz legend George Duke), which has received substantial play on urban contemporary and R&B radio stations. Hewett is signed to The Groove Records, an independent label based in Los Angeles. In October 2008, Hewett released his long awaited Christmas CD "Howard Hewett Christmas" which combines Hewett's soulful warm R&B voice with magical heartfelt classic Christmas songs to create what just may be the best new Christmas album in decades. Working together with, music greats Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, and a new vocal sensation, Jasselle, who brings a Latin flair to the new CD, Hewett proves once again that his musical style remains wonderfully classic, offering a refreshing message that encourages the soul and reignites the true spirit of Christmas. In 2009 he recorded a duet with soul singer Teena Marie, "Lover's Lane," on her album Congo Square.
The Groove Records
( Francsico C. SantaCruz / Christian Salyer )