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Donny Hathaway


Chicago, United States (1945 – 1979)

Donny Edward Hathaway (October 1, 1945 – January 13, 1979) was an Grammy Award-winning American soul musician. He signed with Atlantic Records in 1969, and with his first single “The Ghetto” (1970), Rolling Stone magazine marked him as “a major new force in soul music.” His collaborations with Roberta Flack took him to the top of the charts and won him the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for the duet “Where Is The Love” in 1973. On January 13, 1979, his body was found outside the luxury hotel Essex House in New York City; his death was ruled a suicide.

Hathaway, the son of Drusella Huntley, was born in Chicago, but spent most of his youth in St. Louis. He lived with his grandmother, Martha Pitts, also known as Martha Crumwell, in the Carr Square housing project. Hathaway began singing in a church choir with his grandmother, a professional gospel singer, at the age of 3. He also played the ukulele and, fascinated by Liberace, began studying piano as a child. Hathaway began singing professionally as “Donny Pitts, The Nation’s Youngest Gospel Singer”. By the time he was a student at Vashon High School, he was known as a piano prodigy, which earned him a fine-arts scholarship to Howard University in 1964 where he was initiated into Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He attended Howard for three years and performed with The Ric Powell Trio, a jazz trio. Hathaway received so many job offers that he left Howard without a degree in 1967.

Donny Edward Hathaway (October 1, 1945 – January 13, 1979) was an American jazz, blues, soul, and gospel vocalist and musician. Hathaway contracted with Atlantic Records in 1969 and with his first single for the Atco label, "The Ghetto, Part I" in early 1970, Rolling Stone magazine "marked him as a major new force in soul music. His collaborations with Roberta Flack scored high on the charts and won him the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for the duet, "Where Is the Love" in 1973. At the height of his career Hathaway was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was known to not take his prescribed medication regularly enough to properly control his symptoms.[citation needed] On January 13, 1979, Hathaway's body was found outside the luxury hotel Essex House in New York City; his death was ruled a suicide.

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