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Donny Hathaway was born October 1, 1945 in Chicago. Raised by his grandmother, he began singing early in the church choir. Growing up in a very religious home setting, music was always one of his passions. He attended Vashon High School and graduated in 1963. Studying music at Howard University on a full scholarship, his heart was set in stone about his future career and success.
At first he worked as a songwriter and producer at Twinight Records before later working with artists like The Unifics, The Staple Singers, Jerry Butler, and Aretha Franklin. He decided to take his own path in the industry and recorded a duet in 1969 with June Conquest called “I Thank You Baby”. That year, he signed to Atco Records and released his first single, “The Ghetto, Pt. 1″, and the following year it was released; it was an instant hit. Later recording his first self-debut album, most songs were in the soul and pop genre. His third album was titled Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway and caused major success for both artists. It included singles like “Where Is The Love” and “You’ve Got a Friend”. Appearing in many singles and soundtracks Donny Hathaway became an automatic legend.
His final studio album, Extension Of A Man, was released in 1973, including his most classic well-known song, “Someday We’ll All Be Free”. The years to come, Donny Hathaway would not release any solo albums but would appear on various artists album such as Roberta Flack’s The Closer I Get To You which topped charts.
Unfortunately though, throughout Hathaway’s career he suffered from serious depression soon to be known as paranoid schizophrenia. He became very delusional and stopped taking medication. In 1979, he had various sessions at Essex House’s Hotel with Eric Mercury and James Mtume. But on January 13th, Hathaway was found dead on the sidewalk below the 15th floor room, which he stayed in. Ruling his death as a suicide, by jumping off the balcony.
Hathaway’s legacy will live forever on, and his music will remain one of the most influential things to many R&B, soul artist.
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