• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Brilliant theorist's natural talent

Donny Hathaway was the classic case of an artist who appeared to have everything to live for yet decided that the opposite was the case.

A singer and musician who combined street music nous with classical and jazz theory, gospel roots and a mind full of enquiry, he left behind a relatively modest-sized body of recorded work that had depth beyond measure.

He's best remembered by the wider music audience for his recorded duets with Roberta Flack, including Where is the Love, but his compositions including the now perennial This Christmas (covered by singers from Diana Ross to Harry Connick Jnr) and Valdez in the Country (which helped George Benson's In Flight album to go platinum) ensure that his music still reaches the public, often without them knowing.

Born in Chicago, Hathaway was brought up by his grandmother Martha Pitts, a respected gospel singer who nurtured his natural talent. Atlantic Records legend Jerry Wexler described him as the most brilliant musical theorist he'd ever met and Hathaway's arrangements for Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin et al would support this. His Fender Rhodes piano style remains an influence on musicians today and his singing is the benchmark for anyone using the phrase "soul singer".

Contextual targeting label: 
Arts and Entertainment

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.