A cult figure which continues to loom large in the annals of soul singers, Donny Hathaway in his short time on earth, left behind an inspiring legacy of elevating the music into a more spiritual plane.
This short bio is to pique the interest in Hathaway, and guide readers to the more extended profile of the man here @ all about jazz in an outstanding article by C.N. Harold entitled: Donny Hathaway; Celebrating the Spirit and the Soul.
Hathaway was born in Chicago on October 1, 1945, but spent much of his childhood in St. Louis, where he lived in the Carr Square public housing project with his grandmother, Martha Pitts, who also went by the name Martha Crumwell. Pitts was a professional gospel singer, and Hathaway spent his early childhood time in church, watching her rehearse and perform. Inspired by this environment and the natural development of his talents he was drawn to a life of music.
Hathaway soon began singing professionally as Donny Pitts, The Nation's Youngest Gospel Singer. He also played the ukulele on stage, studied the piano, and as a child was fascinated by flamboyant piano virtuoso Liberace. At St. Louis's Vashon High School, he quickly made a name for himself as a piano prodigy. Backed by the support of his teachers, Hathaway earned a fine-arts scholarship to Howard University and entered in 1964. During his time at Howard, he met his future wife, Eulaulah, and recording artist Roberta Flack. Hathaway would leave Howard without his degree after three years of study; he had begun to receive lucrative job offers, in part because of his membership in a group called the Rick Powell Trio.