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Donny Hathaway

American Soul singer-songwriter and musician

Donny Hathaway is ...


Born 1 October 1945 in Chicago
Died 13 January 1979 in New York City
Age 33 years, 3 months

Sex or gender male
Country of citizenship United States of America
Manner of death suicide
Occupation singer, singer-songwriter, conductor, musician, pianist and record producer
Instrument organ and piano
Genre soul music
Member of Alpha Phi Alpha

About Donny Hathaway

Donny Hathaway was a gifted American soul singer-songwriter and musician, born on October 1, 1945. His music was a fusion of gospel, jazz, and R&B, and his powerful voice and heartfelt lyrics made him one of the most influential artists of his time.

Hathaway began his career as a session musician, playing piano and organ for artists such as Aretha Franklin and Curtis Mayfield. He later signed with Atco Records and released his debut album, Everything Is Everything, in 1970. The album featured the hit single "The Ghetto," which became a classic of the soul genre.

Hathaway's second album, Donny Hathaway, was released in 1971 and included the hit duet with Roberta Flack, "Where Is the Love." The song won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and Hathaway and Flack went on to record several more successful duets.

Despite his success, Hathaway struggled with mental illness throughout his career. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was hospitalized several times. He also had a difficult time dealing with the pressures of the music industry and the racism he faced as a black artist.

Tragically, Hathaway died on January 13, 1979, at the age of 33. His death was ruled a suicide, and he is remembered as one of the greatest soul singers of all time.


- "Donny Hathaway." AllMusic,

- "Donny Hathaway." Rolling Stone,

About Death

Sessions for another album of duets were underway in 1979. On January 13 of that year, Hathaway began a recording session at which producers/musicians Eric Mercury and James Mtume were present. Mercury and Mtume each reported that although Hathaway's voice sounded good, he began behaving irrationally, seeming to be paranoid and delusional. According to Mtume, Hathaway said that "white people" were trying to kill him and had connected his brain to a machine, for the purpose of stealing his music and his sound. Given Hathaway's behavior, Mercury said that he decided the recording session could not continue, so he aborted it and all of the musicians went home.

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