Lalah Hathaway

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Lalah Hathaway
Birth name Eulaulah Donyll Hathaway
Born (1968-12-16) December 16, 1968 (age 49)
Origin Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • arranger
  • pianist
  • Piano
  • vocals
Years active 1989–present
Labels Virgin (1989–1995)
Mesa Bluemoon (2000–2005)
Stax (2007–2012)
eOne Music (2014-2016)
Hathaway Entertainment/Caroline (2016-present)
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 charts 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 to Stax Records and 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's Hot 200 and reached the top 10 on the Top R&B albums chart, making this album, Hathaway's most successful album to date. She received a Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Grammy Award nomination for "That Was Then". She went on to win the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance along 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 of her father's 1972 hit "Little Ghetto Boy" in 2016.

Early life and career beginnings[edit]

Lalah Hathaway was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 16, 1968, the daughter of soul singer Donny Hathaway and Eulaulah Hathaway, an accomplished musician. Hathaway lost her father in 1979, at the age of 10. He had plunged 15 floors from a New York hotel. His body did not have any indication of struggle, and the glass from the window in his room had been removed; investigators determined he had committed suicide.

Lalah Hathaway attended The Chicago Academy for the Arts, and first put pen to paper, "with the music," as a 10th grader. In 1989, she signed to Virgin Records and released her first song, "Inside the Beat", as a promo single. Later, while a student at Berklee College of Music, she recorded her self-titled debut in 1990.

Recording career[edit]

Lalah Hathaway and A Moment (1990–95)[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 charts.[1] The album's lead single Heaven Knows became a top ten single peaking at number 3 on the Hot R&B charts. The album's second single "Baby Don't Cry" only charted at number 18 on the Hot R&B charts. The follow-up single "I'm Coming Back" was less successful.The album's final single "It's Somethin'" debuted at numb21 on the Hot R&B charts. In 1991, Hathaway released an EP entitled Night & Day. The EP was only released in Japan but the single "Night & Day" was released in America. "Night & Day"' debuted at number 110 on the Hot R&B charts. In 1992, Hathaway appeared on Grover Washington's album Next Exit. The song "Love Like This", which featured vocals by Hathaway, was chosen to be the lead single off the album. The single charted at number 31 on the Hot R&B charts.

In 1994, Hathaway followed up her success with her second album, A Moment, which debuted at number 34 on the Top R&B albums chart and number 23 on the Heatseekers chart.[1] The release of her second album saw her embracing an even more progressive sound as producer Brian Alexander Morgan was enlisted for her upbeat lead single "Let Me Love You", which debuted at the numb37 on the Hot R&B charts. Later that year, the songs "Separate Ways" and "Family Affair" were released as singles, although neither charted. The album did not sell as well as her first release and eventually Hathaway left Virgin.

The Song Lives On (1998–2000)[edit]

She continued working with many other established artists, including Take 6, Mary J. Blige, The Winans, and Marcus Miller, writing, producing and doing background vocals. In 1999, Hathaway joined GRP Records and collaborated with Joe Sample on the album The Song Lives On, which topped the jazz charts at No. 2.[1] The album became Hathaway's second debut on Billboard′s Hot 200 and later charted on Top R&B album chart.[1] The single "When Your Life Was Low" charted only on the Hot R&B charts at number 118. The album's second single, "Fever", failed to chart.

The Song Lives On went on to become one of Hathaway and Joe Sample's most successful albums to chart. In response to its success, they were honored with Billboard/BET on Jazz Award for "Mainstream Jazz Album".[citation needed]

Outrun the Sky (2003–2006)[edit]

In 2003, Lalah Hathaway appeared alongside Sanctuary, Pyramid, Mesa, and Blue Moon Records. In 2004, Hathaway released a cover version of Luther Vandross's song "Forever, For Always, For Love". The song later appeared on the all-star tribute album Forever, For Always, For Luther and on her fourth album Outrun the Sky. The song was released the lead single and peaked at number 1 on the Adult R&B charts. Forever, For Always, For Love became Hathaway's first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, charting at number 112 and number 37 on the Hot R&B charts. Her first solo album in five years featured production from Rex Rideout, Mike City, and Chris Parks.[2] The album's second single "Better and Better" peaked at number 121 on the Hot R&B charts.

Also in 2004, 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 along with Sandra St. Victor, Nona Hendryx, Indira Khan, Simone, and Joyce Kennedy.[3] Continuing her forays into the gospel realm, she could be found on Israel and New Breed's 2006 Chr*stmas album A Timeless Chr*stmas, which also featured Marcus Miller.

Stax and Self Portrait (2007–09)[edit]

The recently re-launched Stax Records label had announced signing 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 release from Stax was the single "Love's Holiday," from the Earth, Wind & Fire tribute album Interpretations.[5] In April 2008, Hathaway released her lead single "Let Go", which debuted at number 51 on the Hot R&B charts and number 16 on the Hot Adult R&B charts. In June 2008, Hathaway's debut for Stax Records, Self Portrait was released. Collaborating again with producer Rex Rideout on much of the album and working with such artists as Rahsaan Patterson and Sandra St. Victor, Self Portrait became her most successful album to date, debuting at number 6 Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and number 63 on the Billboard's Hot 200. The album sold over 9,400 copies in the first week.[1][6]

After the release of Self Portrait, Hathaway went on tour, beginningin July 2008.[7] The "Self Portrait Tour" was her second solo concert tour, intended to showcase songs from her debut solo album, Self Portrait. The concert tour contained 10 tour dates in America and a collection of songs from her previous albums, Lalah Hathaway and Outrun the Sky, and 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 debut at number 105 on the Hot R&B charts 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. The tour, which kicked off on November 28 at the Detroit Opera House, appeared in the places of Washington, D.C., Memphis, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Atlanta.[9] In January 2009, Hathaway appeared on BETJ in an interview and performed before an audience. She continued to support the album and she was scheduled to perform at the Capital Jazz Festival in Columbia, MD, Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, LA, 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 DC singer Eric Roberson, "Dealing."[11]

Where It All Begins (2011)[edit]

On August 14, 2011, Lalah Hathaway took to her Twitter account to release a free download of "If You Want To",[12][13] the debut single from her sixth studio album Where It All Begins releasing October 18, 2011.[14]

Lalah Hathaway Live (2015)[edit]

On October 30, 2015, Lalah released the live album Lalah Hathaway Live.[15][better source needed]


In 2017, Lalah released her first album for Caroline Records, Honestly. The project was produced entirely by indie songwriter and singer Tiffany Gouché, with a remix of the single "I Can't Wait" produced by Teddy Riley.

Musical style and image[edit]

Music and voice[edit]

Hathaway, a contralto singer,[16] 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". In many reviews, she is often compared to her father and reviewed to be continuing his vocal style. She has often been criticized[who?] for not covering any of her father's songs, although she has appeared on others' recorded covers, such as Take 6's rendition of "Someday We'll All Be Free". Singer Natalie Cole (herself having been noted for decades-long resistance to recording her father Nat "King" Cole's music) actually stated that Lalah should herself cover at least one song, however, Hathaway replied that she feels she does not need to. Hathaway also mentioned during the recording process of her fifth studio album that she does not want to fit into the music industry's current music. 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."[17]

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."[17]

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 taking to the global stage and contributing her voice to Daughters of Soul Tour, a musical mélange founded by comrade Sandra St. Victor, and featuring Nona Hendryx, Joyce Kennedy, as well as Indira and Simone, daughters of Chaka Khan and Nina Simone.[17]

While it might seem that "On Your Own" from Self Portrait, which re-teams her with Rex Rideout and Rahsaan Patterson, is inspired by a past heartbreak, in fact, the idea for the song came to her in a dream. While Lalah 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 in step with the theme of her family, Hathaway often journeys back to her childhood with "Little Girl", which she co-produced with Rex Rideout, Rahsaan Patterson, and Sandra St. Victor.[17]


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."[18] Hathaway appeared with her band on Prince's Welcome to America opening concert at the Izod Center, December 15, 2010.

Other ventures[edit]


Lalah 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.[19]




  1. ^ a b c d e allmusic (Lalah Hathaway > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums ). Allmusic – Retrieved: July 1, 2009.
  2. ^ "eJams: Lalah Hathaway". Archived from the original on February 7, 2012. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  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 - Soul Music Biographies, News and Reviews". SoulTracks. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Everybody Loves Tichina". Archived from the original on December 9, 2008. Retrieved June 14, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Disturbed's Indestructible Knocks Usher Off Top Of Billboard Chart". 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
  7. ^ "Lalah Hathaway introduces LalahTV and New Tour Dates". Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved May 17, 2009. 
  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 2015-07-12. 
  10. ^ "Buy and Sell Tickets: Concerts, Sports & Theater | Vivid Seats". Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
  11. ^ "2009 SoulTracks Readers' Choice Awards Winners! | SoulTracks - Soul Music Biographies, News and Reviews". SoulTracks. Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ [2][dead link]
  14. ^ [3][dead link]
  15. ^ Lalah Hathaway Live
  16. ^ "Countdown: Top 5 Contemporary Contraltos". Diva Devotee. 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2016-07-20. 
  17. ^ a b c d "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 14, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Lalah Hathaway". 2004-02-03. Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
  19. ^ "Lalah Hathaway : Singer : Circle of Life". Archived from the original on August 7, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2009. 

External links[edit]