Lalah Hathaway is thinking a lot like her daddy these days.
The veteran R&B singer is the daughter of Donny Hathaway, the late, great R&B singer who committed suicide by jumping off a hotel balcony in 1979. Before he died, Hathaway released several great albums, including a live album, simply titled “Live” in 1972. (Another live album, “In Performance,” was released posthumously in 1980.) Last year, his daughter released her first live album, “Lalah Hathaway Live.”
Recorded at the Troubadour in Los Angeles (where her dad recorded the first half of “Live”), Hathaway starts the album with a rendition of “Little Ghetto Boy,” one of her dad’s hits. Grammy voters must have appreciated the salute she gave her pops. Earlier this year, Hathaway won a Best Traditional R&B Performance Grammy for covering the song.
“Aside from it being just a great song, it’s such a song that I associate with ‘Donny Hathaway Live,’ I thought it was just a great song to start the show,” says Hathaway, calling from her Los Angeles home. “The record really was born out of talking to people about, you know, possibly doing a best-of record, possibly doing a tribute record. And, so, what I really wanted to do was a live record that would combine all of those elements, and that just seemed like a great place to start.”
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Following in her dad’s footsteps by releasing a live album of her own is something she has always wanted.
“As a musician and as a fan and as his child, absolutely – those are great records,” she says of her old man’s live albums. “I absolutely grew up with the tradition of live music in our household. In the ’70s and ’80s, that was the time of the live musician. And, so, I definitely grew up with that feel.”
“Little Ghetto Boy” was also a song from “Come Back, Charleston Blue,” the 1972 movie on which the elder Hathaway served as composer. Lalah has also been dabbling in the soundtrack game, working with super-producer Pharrell Williams on the music for the upcoming movie “Hidden Figures,” which stars Taraji P. Henson as one of the African-American mathematicians who helped NASA in the space race. “He called me,” she says, lightly laughing. “That’s how generally those things happen. Someone gives a call and says, you know, ‘I have a song that I have written with you in mind, and it’s for this soundtrack for this movie, and can you come and record it?’ It’s really that simple.”
Hathaway also performed some cinema-related ditties at the “Black Movie Soundtrack II” show at the Hollywood Bowl last month. The show, which paid tribute to classic tunes from classic black movies, had Hathaway paying respects to the Purple One (with whom she previously collaborated) and performing songs from Prince’s “Purple Rain.” She belted out the title track and did a duet with Charlie Wilson on “Take Me with U.”
“It was a really beautiful event,” she says. “The second one, I mean, really topped the first one. It was Babyface and me and Gladys Knight – I mean, so many acts, and really tributing the music of black cinema. So, it’s a really beautiful night that, hopefully, they’ll continue to have.”
Hathaway is currently on tour, opening for Anthony Hamilton. The tour will be making a stop Thursday in Durham.
“He’s one of my favorite artists and someone I’ve known for a long time,” she says of Hamilton. “So, it’s always a pleasure making music with him.”
But no matter what she does musically, she will always carry with her the lessons and values of both her father and her mother, Eulaulah Hathaway (a musician in her own right), instilled in her.
“He definitely passed his honesty to me,” she says. “I clearly sound like him in spots. You know, we’re made from the same stuff. I probably sound a lot like my mother as well. So, I definitely get some of my natural feel, I think, from listening to my parents make music all my life, for sure.”
Who: Anthony Hamilton, with Eric Benet and Lalah Hathaway
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 6)
Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham
Details: 919-680-2787 or dpacnc.com