I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard the miracle that is Lalah Hathaway: I was a young reporter at the Newark, NJ, bureau of The Associated Press, subletting a tiny, roach-infested studio apartment in Spanish Harlem (where I spent a large amount of my waking hours trying my best to put out of my mind that I lived across the street from what looked like an outpost of Nino Brown’s “The Carter” in New Jack City) when up on my television popped a video for “Baby Don’t Cry.” It was Angela Winbush’s background vocals that made me look up—Lalah’s beautiful voice that made me take notice. I rushed out on my lunch break the next day to cop the cassette tape (yes, I recognize I just dated the hell out of myself, but whatevs) and added it in my collection of classics I love, alongside Brand Nubian’s One For All, Tribe Called Quest’s People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm and Public Enemy’s Fear Of A Black Planet.
At a time when artists like Tribe, De La, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth and Brand Nubian were experimenting with beats, melodies and music of jazz masters like Donald Byrd, Gene McDaniels and Roy Ayers, Lalah Hathaway was the stand-out female artist whose musical aesthetic matched what I loved. To me, she was soulful soft thunder—a delicious mesh of hip hop and R&B with an infusion of jazz and intelligent lyrics, wrapped in a distinctive vocal that, all-at-once intense and lush, mesmerizes.
Plus, she’s Donny Hathaway’s baby girl. Translation: Lil’ Lalah can’t help but to be gifted and fly.
This is all to say that my lengthy Lalah Hathaway playlist stays on repeat—right up there with my collection of Donny Hathaway material. Anyone who knows me, down to the babies, can tell you that if one of their songs is on, I will talk a hot hole in your head about the two of them, their music and especially their voices; to me, Lalah’s is the fraternal twin of her daddy’s.
Imagine, then, how I almost pulled off the road the other day when our local R&B station played Lalah’s version of her father’s classic hit, “You Were Meant For Me.” I was wilding out not just because she sounds exactly like her daddy in that doggone song—just like him, I tell you—but also because I knew it meant Lalah’s got a new album coming out.
Just say yessiree!
Lalah’s latest offering is called Where It All Begins; it hit iTunes, Amazon.com and music stores just yesterday. And lucky for you, my MyBrownBaby sweethearts, I’ve got the inside track: I worked it out so that we could have our own private Lalah Hathaway Listening Party right here on MyBrownBaby! Just plug in your headphones, pump up the volume and enjoy listening to Where It All Begins in its entirety by clicking on this link.
And after you’re done, please, please, please support this sister and her artistry by buying the album. On her website, Lalah is offering a few Lalah Hathaway Deluxe Package deals for her work, including digital downloads of Where It All Begins and her earlier work, Self Portrait, plus a funky, limited edition portrait poster, autographed and numbered on archival, acid-free art paper.
Enjoy the Lalah Hathaway Listening Party, my sweets! If you like what you hear, hit Lalah up at LalahHathaway.com, or on her personal pages on Twitter or FaceBook, and of course, come back here to the MyBrownBaby comments section to tell us and Lalah what you love about her, her albums and her music.
Photo credit: Derek Blanks
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.