Lalah Hathaway: Continuing The Legacy

lalah hathawaySinger Lalah Hathaway’s first recording was in 1969. It was recorded when she couldn’t talk yet. She wasn’t even a year old. How does that happen? Well, you can hear her wailing on her father, Donny Hathaway’s single “The Ghetto.”

Best known for soulful songs like “Where is the Love?” and “The Closer I Get To You” and of course, the unforgettable classic played around Christmas time, “This Christmas.” One of the most promising talents of his generation, Hathaway suffered from major depression for much of his life and committed suicide in 1979, at age 33. Lalah was 10.

Like other offspring of famous singers, such as Natalie Cole (daughter of Nat “King” Cole) or Ziggy Marley (son of Bob), Hathaway inherited the advantage of having a famous last name along with the burden of being constantly compared to her father and the pressure to live up to his legacy.

lalah and jillSince, then Lalah grew up and has made a name for herself with her own career in contemporary R&B and soul music. But she’s still coming to terms with her father’s legacy. She remembers covering one of her father’s songs during a performance in Japan in the early 90s, “and this man came, he was probably 50 years old … And he sat really stoically in the middle of the room and cried the whole show … It’s really a testament of how much my dad really, really meant to people — even people who could not understand the words.”

“It would be hard to be a singer, musician or have ears and not be an admirer of my dad,” said Hathaway, who performs some of her father’s songs during her shows. “I can only say that now that I’m older, because growing up, I thought I was biased. I thought it was just me. Now I see that he left his mark on the world.”

Hathaway was around music constantly when she was growing up. She and her younger sister, Kenya Hathaway (a singer, guitarist and percussionist who tours with George Benson)…