In January of 1979, the great soul artist Donny Hathaway fell fifteen stories from a window of Manhattan’s Essex House Hotel in an alleged suicide. He was 34 years old and everyone he worked with called him a genius. Best known for A Song for You, This Christmas, and the absolutely classic duets with Roberta Flack, Hathaway was a composer, pianist, and singer committed to exploring music in its totality. His vibrant sincerity set him apart from other soul men of his era while influencing generations of singers and fans whose love affair with him continues to this day.
His classic Album, Donny Hathaway Live testifies to his uncanny ability to amplify the power and beauty of his songs in the moment of live performance. By exploring this album, we see how he generated a spiritual experience for those present at his shows, and for those with the privilege to listen in now.
Released Today Is A Book By Emily Lordi Of The Same Name.
Emily Lordi* has written the first non-fiction book about Hathaway. It’s the latest installment in Bloomsbury’s 33 ⅓ series, released today. She uses original interviews, archival material, musical analysis, cultural history, and poetry to tell the story of Hathaway’s life, from his beginnings as a gospel wonder child to his final years. But its focus is the brutally honest, daringly gorgeous music he created as he raced the clock of mental illness especially in the performances captured on his 1972 album Donny Hathaway Live.
Emily is an assistant professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the author of Black Resonance: Iconic Women Singers and African American Literature (Rutgers UP, 2013). Her music reviews appear on New Black Man, The Feminist Wire, The New Inquiry, and The Root. In addition to her 33⅓ book on Donny Hathaway, she is writing a book on the musical and literary aesthetics of “soul.
“I wanted to write about Donny Hathaway because he is one of the most phenomenal yet criminally underrated musicians of the 20th century. (There are no other nonfiction books about him, although there are two collections of poetry.) Despite decades of critical neglect, a deep and intergenerational connection to his music persists, especially among black listeners. This isn’t surprising, given that his gorgeous body of work is like the slogan ‘Black is Beautiful’ in musical form.” Emily Lordi
We urge you to recollect this album and also buy the book. Pure genius.
Donny Hathaway Live Tracklisting
1. What’s Goin’ On (Renaldo “Obie” Benson, Al Cleveland, Marvin Gaye) – 5:1
2. The Ghetto (Donny Hathaway, Leroy Hutson) – 12:00
3. Hey Girl (Earl DeRouen) – 4:03
4. You’ve Got a Friend (Carole King) – 4:34
Little Ghetto Boy (Derouen, Eddy Howard) – 4:29
We’re Still Friends (Hathaway, Watts) – 5:12
Jealous Guy (John Lennon) – 3:08
“Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything) (Richard Evans, Philip Upchurch, Ric Powell) – 13:47