Just over 40 years since the death of her father Donny Hathaway — a man who surely deserves the overused word “legend” if any soul artist does — his daughter Lalah Hathaway will pay a very special tribute to him tonight (24). A distinguished R&B talent in her own right, she will perform an entire set of his music for the first time, at the Soul At The Centre event in New York.
The evening, in association with Okayplayer, opens the summer season of free concerts named Lincoln Centre Out of Doors, at the Guggenheim Bandshell in Damrosch Park, Manhattan. Also performing at the show are the Illustrious Blacks, Baby Rose, hip-hop forefathers the Last Poets and others.
Lalah won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance, one of her several Grammys, in 2016 for her version of Donny’s 1972 single ‘Little Ghetto Boy.’ Her other successes on record include the top three R&B hit of 1990, ‘Heaven Knows,’ and her 1992 collaboration with Grover Washington Jr, ‘Love Like This.’ Her most recent album was 2017’s self-released Honestly.
Lalah was only ten when her father died, apparently of suicide, at the age of 33, on 13 January 1979. Earlier this week, Hathaway said in an interview with the New York Times: “Grief is a process. Art is a process. Me stepping into that light and allowing him to come through is all a process. It may sound cheesy, but it’s an esoteric spiritual journey.”
Hathaway enjoyed an artistic surge late in his all-too-short life when he reunited with Roberta Flack, with whom he had recorded such songs as the 1972 R&B No. 1 ‘Where Is The Love.’ They hit that peak again in 1978 with ‘The Closer I Get To You.’
In an email correspondence in the same New York Times story, Flack wrote: “Donny was a tremendous talent. He was not only a singer, but an arranger, composer, conductor and teacher. His vocal quality was complex. In the studio, Donny and I had an artistic pairing unlike any other for me, before or since.”