Today in Black History (October 1st)

Donny Hathaway was born October 1, 1946.
He was born in Chicago, but grew up in St. Louis and began singing gospel at age three. Hathaway attended Howard University on a fine arts scholarship and was a classmate of Roberta Flack. He began recording for Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom label in 1969, and then he signed with Atco records. His single The Ghetto was a mild hit, but the duet You’ve Got a Friend with Flack was his first Top Ten R&B market leader.

Together, they would later score two number one hit duets, Where Is the Love and The Closer I Get To You. Both were also Top Ten pop sensations. Hathaway’s vocal sound, delivery and quality have influenced singers from Stevie Wonder to George Benson, while his compositions have been recorded by an assortment of artists including Cold Blood, Jerry Butler, the Staple Singers, Carla Thomas and Aretha Franklin.

Donny was also, throughout the decade, battling severe bouts of depression, which occasionally required him to be hospitalized.

Sessions for a second album of duets with Roberta were underway when, on January 13, 1979, Donny was found dead, at the age of 33, on the sidewalk below the 15th floor window of his room in New York’s Essex House hotel.

The glass had been carefully removed from the window, and there were no signs of struggle, leading investigators to rule his death a suicide.

Donny’s close friends were mystified, considering that his career had been on the ascendancy.

He left a number of children including daughter Lalah Hathaway.

In 1980, Hathaway achieved a posthumous U.K. number 3 hit with another Roberta Flack duet, Back Together Again.

The Ghetto – Live

The Closer I Ger to You

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