Donny Hathaway

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Donny Hathaway
Donny Hathaway
Background info
Full name Donny Edward Hathaway
Also known as Donny Pitts
Birthday/Birthplace (1945-10-01)October 1, 1945
Chicago, Illinois, US
Origin St. Louis, Missouri, US
Deceased January 13, 1979(1979-01-13)
New York, New York, US
Genre(s) Chicago soul, soul, jazz, gospel, R&B, blues
Profession(s) Musician songwriter, arranger, conductor, producer
Instruments Vocals, piano, keyboards
Active Years 1967–1979
Record Labels Curtom, Atco
Worked with Lalah Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Curtis Mayfield, Leroy Hutson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Quincy Jones

Donny Hathaway (Chicago, United States, October 1, 1945 – January 13, 1979) was an American soul musician. His numerous collaborations with the singer Roberta Flack took him directly to the top of all the charts and both were awarded a Grammy Award for his duet in the song “Where Is the Love?” In 1973. On January 13, 1979 He was found dead outside the Essex House Hotel in New York, all indications were that the cause of his death was suicide.

Donny Hathaway’s Biography

First years

Hathaway, son of Drusella Huntley, was born in Chicago, although much of his childhood was spent in St. Louis. There he lived with his grandmother, Martha Pitts, a gospel singer with whom Hathaway began singing in the church at age three. Soon after, he began his piano lessons, an instrument that he played prodigiously in his adolescence. In 1964 he began studying at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Howard University, where he was enrolled for three years and performed with a jazz trio; Hathaway received so many job offers that he decided to leave the University, without having finished his career, in 1967.


At the beginning, Hathaway worked as a composer and producer. First he worked in Chicago for Twinight Records, and little by little he was collaborating in projects of great artists like The Staple Singers, Jerry Butler, Aretha Franklin and Curtis Mayfield, among others. His first single was “I thank you baby”, a song he recorded with June Conquest in 1969. Thanks to this first publication, Atco Records hired Hathaway’s services and he released his first solo single, “The Ghetto, Pt. 1”. His first LP was Everything Is Everything (1970), which received very good reviews. His second album, Donny Hathaway, was even more successful. He also recorded a duet album with his former classmate at the University, and record label partner, Roberta Flack. This album had great commercial success, and songs like “Where Is The Love?”, Which played duo with Ralph MacDonald, managed to place them in the top 5 of the sales charts. Also, that album also included versions of Carole King songs, such as “You’ve Got a Friend” and “BabyLove You,” which had previously popularized Aretha Franklin.

Health problems

At the height of his career, Hathaway began to suffer his first nervous depressions. This disease caused havoc in his personal life, and forced him to be hospitalized on several occasions. The depression of Hathaway contributed to deteriorate its relation with Roberta Flack; It took years to reconcile, and they did not record together until 1978, when they published “The CloserGet To You”. The single quickly became a success, and Flack and Hathaway definitively returned to the studios to record a second album together.


On January 13, 1979, Hathaway’s body was found dead on the sidewalk in front of the Essex House Hotel in New York, where he had been living. His body showed no signs of violence, and one of the windows in his room was missing a glass, so the investigators in the case determined that Hathaway had committed suicide. Friends, admirers and the media were shocked by his death, and most especially his friend Roberta Flack, who was devastated by the disappearance of Hathaway …

Marriage and children

Hathaway met his wife, Eulaulah, at Howard University. They had two daughters, Eulaulah Donyll (Lalah Hathaway) and Kenya Canelibra. Lalah has continued in her father’s footsteps and has had a successful solo career, while Kenya is one of the three choristers of the American Idol television show.

More Facts about Donny Hathaway

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