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Rhythm Revue Spotlight: Felix Hernandez on singer-songwriter Donny Hathaway

Donny Hathaway
Donny Hathaway

He was Amy Winehouse's favorite singer. His music influences countless performers to this day, including Aaliyah, Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, and many others.

Singer and musician Donny Hathaway was born on October 1, 1945 in Chicago and raised in St. Louis. He attended Howard University as a music major where he met Roberta Flack. Just before graduating, he joined Curtis Mayfield and worked with Curtis, producing and writing songs. Curtis at the time had a label called Curtom and Donny Hathaway's first single was released on the label. It was a duet with singer June Conquest.

Donny Hathaway soon joined Atlantic Records, where he released his first album in 1970 called Everything is Everything. It included his first hit single, “The Ghetto.”

Donny Hathaway - 'The Ghetto'

Donny's third album, which appeared in 1972, was a series of duets with his former Howard University classmate Roberta Flack. It included the hit “Where is the Love?”

Where Is the Love (Remastered Version)

Donny Hathaway's voice is heard most often these days around Christmas time. His 1970's single, “This Christmas,” has become a holiday standard. You'll also hear Donny Hathaway on reruns of the old sitcom, Maud. He sang the theme song.

A monumental part of Donny Hathaway's legacy is the song, “Someday We'll All Be Free,” which appeared on his 1973 album Extension of a Man.

Donny Hathaway died on January 13, 1979. He was only 33.

Listen above.

Someday We'll All Be Free

Recommended Listening

“The Ghetto”
“Someday We'll All Be Free”
“Sack Full of Dreams”
“You've Got a Friend” (with Roberta Flack)

Deep cut

“Sunshine and Showers”

Felix Hernandez started his career as a producer and radio journalist while in college. In the 1980’s, Felix independently produced the award-winning radio series BluesStage, which had a 6 year run on over 200 NPR stations. He also worked extensively as a journalist with WBEZ in Chicago, and NPR.