Lalah Hathaway

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Lalah Hathaway
Birth nameEulaulah Donyll Hathaway
Born (1968-12-16) December 16, 1968 (age 50)
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • arranger
  • musician
  • Piano
  • vocals
Years active1989–present
LabelsVirgin, Mesa Bluemoon, Stax, eOne, Hathaway/Caroline
Associated acts

Eulaulah Donyll "Lalah" Hathaway (born December 16, 1968) is an American singer. She is the daughter of soul singer Donny Hathaway and an alumna of Berklee College of Music. In 1990, Lalah Hathaway released her self-titled album. The album's first single was "Heaven Knows", produced by Derek Bramble. The follow-up single was "Baby Don't Cry", was produced by Angela Winbush.

In 1991, Hathaway released her extended play, Night & Day, in Japan. A Moment was released in 1994, debuting at number 34 on the Top R&B albums chart. The lead single, "Let Me Love You", charted on the Hot R&B chart at number 37. In 1999, she collaborated with Joe Sample and released her third album The Song Lives On. After a five-year hiatus, she returned with her fourth album, Outrun the Sky. The single "Forever, For Always, For Love" peaked at number 1 on the Hot Adult R&B Airplay.

In 2007, Hathaway signed with Stax, which in 2008 released her fifth album, Self Portrait. Released on June 3, 2008, in the United States, it debuted at number 63 on the Billboard Hot 200 and reached the top 10 on the Top R&B albums chart, making this album her most successful album to date. She received a Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Grammy Award nomination for "That Was Then". She won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance with Snarky Puppy for "Something" in 2014. On February 8, 2015, she won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance along with Robert Glasper and Malcolm-Jamal Warner for "Jesus Children". She again won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the cover version of her father's 1972 hit "Little Ghetto Boy" in 2016.

Early life[edit]

Lalah Hathaway was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 16, 1968. Her mother Eulaulah Hathaway was a musician and her father was soul singer Donny Hathaway. In 1979, he died due to a fall from a hotel in New York City. She attended The Chicago Academy for the Arts. In 1989, she signed with Virgin Records, which released her first song, "Inside the Beat". While a student at Berklee College of Music a year later, she recorded her self-titled debut album.

Recording career[edit]

In 1990, Hathaway released her self-titled first album, which debuted at number 191 on the Billboard Hot 200 and number 18 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[1] The album's lead single "Heaven Knows" peaked at number 3 on the Hot R&B. "Baby Don't Cry" charted at number 18 on the Hot R&B chart. "It's Somethin'" debuted at No. 21 on the Hot R&B chart.

In 1991, Hathaway's EP Night & Day was released only in Japan, but the single "Night & Day" was released in America where it debuted at number 110 on the Hot R&B chart. In 1992, she appeared on Grover Washington's album Next Exit. The song "Love Like This", with vocals by Hathaway, was the first single, and it charted at No. 31.

In 1994, A Moment debuted at number 34 on the Top R&B albums chart and number 23 on the Heatseekers chart.[1] One her second albumBrian Alexander Morgan produced the single "Let Me Love You", which debuted at the No. 37. "Separate Ways" and "Family Affair" were released as singles, although neither charted. The album did not sell as well as her first, and eventually Hathaway left Virgin.

She worked with established musicians such as Mary J. Blige, Marcus Miller, Take 6, and The Winans, writing, producing, and singing background vocals. In 1999, she joined GRP and collaborated with Joe Sample on The Song Lives On, which reached No. 2 on the jazz album chart.[1] It became her second debut on the Billboard Hot 200 and later charted on Top R&B album chart.[1] "When Your Life Was Low" charted only on the Hot R&B at number 118. The Song Lives On received the Billboard/BET on Jazz Award for Best Mainstream Jazz Album.[citation needed]

In 2004, she released a cover version of Luther Vandross's song "Forever, for Always, for Love". The song appeared on the all-star tribute album Forever, for Always, for Luther and on her fourth album Outrun the Sky. It reached number 1 on the Adult R&B chart. "Forever, for Always, for Love" became her first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, charting at number 112 and number 37 on the Hot R&B. Her first solo album in five years was produced by Rex Rideout, Mike City, and Chris Parks.[2] "Better and Better" peaked at number 121.

Hathaway was featured on Donald Lawrence's debut solo album I Speak Life as a lead vocalist on "Don't Forget to Remember". In 2005, she was seen on the international Daughters of Soul tour with Sandra St. Victor, Nona Hendryx, Simone, and Joyce Kennedy.[3] Continuing her forays into the gospel realm, she could be heard on Israel and New Breed's 2006 Christmas album A Timeless Christmas, which also featured Marcus Miller.

After Stax signed Hathaway she stated, "The foundation of soul music is rooted in Stax Records. Working with Maurice White on the Interpretations project was more than special to me. There is no higher compliment than to be signed to a label whose music is timeless. I'm proud to carry the torch that will continue to bring quality soul music to a new audience."[4]

Her first single was "Love's Holiday" from the Earth, Wind & Fire tribute album Interpretations.[5] In April 2008, Stax released "Let Go", which debuted at number 51 on the Hot R&B chart and number 16 on the Hot Adult R&B. In June 2008, Self Portrait was released. Collaborating again with producer Rex Rideout and working with Rahsaan Patterson and Sandra St. Victor, Self Portrait became her most successful album to date, debuting at number 6 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and number 63 on the Hot 200.[1][6]

After the release of Self Portrait, Hathaway went on tour beginning in July 2008.[7] The Self Portrait Tour contained 10 tour dates in America and a collection of songs from her previous albums, Lalah Hathaway and Outrun the Sky and a few songs from Self Portrait. The tour only reached America. In late 2008, "That Was Then" was released as the album's second single. The single debuted at number 105 on the Hot R&B chart and number 32 on the Hot Adult R&B Airplay.[8]

In November 2008, Hathaway joined Will Downing and Gerald Albright for the Soulful Chr*stmas Tour in Washington, D.C., Memphis, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Atlanta.[9] In January 2009, she appeared on Black Entertainment Television in an interview and performed before an audience. She continued to support the album and was scheduled to perform at the Capital Jazz Festival in Columbia, Maryland, the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, and Circle of Promise, which took place in July 2009.[10] In December 2009 she won the Song of the Year award in the SoulTracks Readers' Choice Award for her duet with singer Eric Roberson on "Dealing."[11]

In 2019, Hathaway featured on American musician Anderson Paak's fourth album Ventura on the track Reachin' 2 Much.

Music and voice[edit]

Hathaway, a contralto singer,[12] is her father Donny Hathaway's eldest daughter. Her longest singing note was held for 17 seconds in the performance of "Forever, For Always, For Love".

During the recording process of her fifth studio album she stated, "I don't necessarily want to fit into what's happening now, but I want to stand with it, doing my own thing. I would really love it if people need the record. I put a lot of myself into this album, so I hope people can hear me and understand who I am."[13]

Although she has created a space for herself, Hathaway remains connected to her late father and his classic sound. She has stated, "I am his daughter and that's the truth of who I am, every day. When I was 15, and then, 20, I didn't get why people were asking me how I felt about him and his music. But when I turned 25, I began to understand. Like my father, I want to leave a legacy of music that makes people really feel something, whether it be happiness, sadness, grief or heartache. I also want them to appreciate my humor which I know can be difficult to interpret in a song."[13]

Songwriting and producing[edit]

Between album projects, Hathaway, who has recorded collaborations with Marcus Miller, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Mary J. Blige, keeps her creativity nourished by contributing her voice to Daughters of Soul Tour, a musical mélange founded by Sandra St. Victor and featuring Nona Hendryx, Joyce Kennedy, as well as Indira and Simone, daughters of Chaka Khan and Nina Simone.[13]

Although it might seem that "On Your Own" from Self Portrait, which reunites her with Rex Rideout and Rahsaan Patterson, is inspired by a past heartbreak, the idea for the song came to her in a dream. While Hathaway is often known for singing down tempo songs, during the period of 2004 and 2008, she had done mid-tempo songs such as "Let Go", "Let Me Love You", and "Better and Better". Keeping with the theme of her family, she often journeys back to her childhood with "Little Girl", which she co-produced with Rex Rideout, Rahsaan Patterson, and Sandra St. Victor.[13]


On stage, Hathaway performs the songs longer than the album version, with new arrangements. In concert, the stage mainly consists of Lalah Hathaway, the back-up singers, and the band. Often at the audience's request, the vocals will be turned higher than band. Hathaway's band would often consist of a keyboardist, guitarist, bassist, and drummer. Most songs would last over approximately five minutes. Dawn! E. Robinson of attended a Hathaway in concert and her review stated: "The sound in the house was strange – the band was really too loud all evening. Even when the sound guy turned LALAH's vocals up (at the audience's request) the band got louder. I got the impression that the sound onstage was good though, because none of the singers appeared to be over-singing."[14]


Hathaway is one of the National Ambassadors for the "Circle of Promise". Launched in October 2007, the campaign was created by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to educate, empower and mobilize the African-American community in the fight against breast cancer.

"The rate of black women and girls diagnosed with breast cancer is rising at an alarming rate," said Hathaway. "We are fighting a common enemy. Knowledge and having a take-charge mindset and attitude are critical weapons in the fight against this deadly disease. I became active because I want to be an ambassador of change. If I tell seven of my friends and they tell seven of their friends and so on, the circle will continue to expand and we'll create a chorus of voices within the African-American community to eradicate breast cancer. I truly believe that this is a goal we can achieve together." The Circle of Promise is nationally represented by several phenomenal African American women. Hathaway has raised money on her tours and record sales to help find a cure for women with breast cancer. She has also influenced women to get tested and tell family members to be aware of the cancer.[15]




  1. ^ a b c d e Wynn, Ron. "Lalah Hathaway". AllMusic. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  2. ^ "eJams: Lalah Hathaway". Archived from the original on February 7, 2012. Retrieved July 12, 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ Shelah Moody (October 20, 2005). "Lalah Hathaway grateful for her father's gifts". San Francisco Chronicle.
  4. ^ "Lalah Hathaway Signs with Stax Records". SoulTracks. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  5. ^ "Everybody Loves Tichina". Archived from the original on December 9, 2008. Retrieved June 14, 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "Disturbed's Indestructible Knocks Usher Off Top Of Billboard Chart". November 6, 2008. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  7. ^ "Lalah Hathaway introduces LalahTV and New Tour Dates". Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved May 17, 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ "Lalah Hathaway - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  9. ^ "Will Downing, Lalah, Gerald to Headline Soulful Christmas tour | SoulTracks - Soul Music Biographies, News and Reviews". SoulTracks. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  10. ^ "Buy and Sell Tickets". Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  11. ^ "2009 SoulTracks Readers' Choice Awards Winners!". SoulTracks. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  12. ^ "Countdown: Top 5 Contemporary Contraltos". Diva Devotee. July 25, 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c d "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 14, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Lalah Hathaway". February 3, 2004. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  15. ^ "Lalah Hathaway : Singer : Circle of Life". Archived from the original on August 7, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

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