BLACK VOICES

Why Lalah Hathaway Says This 40-Year-Old Song Still Needs Singing

The Grammy Award-winning vocalist on performing her father's 1972 track "Little Ghetto Boy."

This year has been quite a memorable one for Lalah Hathaway.

As she commemorates 25 years as a recording artist, the Chicago-native -- and daughter of soul music legend Donny Hathaway -- saw her highest album chart debut with the release of “Lalah Hathaway Live." Last week, the singer scored a Grammy nod (Best Traditional R&B Performance) for her live rendition of her father’s classic hit “Little Ghetto Boy.”

Though the track was originally released in 1972, Hathaway says the song’s lyrics -- which encourage change and responsibility -- still resonate with the state of today’s black America.  

“It’s amazing that song is as poignant as it was 40 years ago. It’s still just as poignant today,” she said during an interview with The Huffington Post. “It’s a song that could’ve been written 100 years ago and will -- unfortunately -- be super fresh 100 years from now. The message for me was ringing so true this summer. The most important part of the message for me in the song this year is that everything has got to get better. Just be encouraged to stay encouraged. I love the fact that the song takes you through the mind and brings you into the light on the other side -- which is encouraging music.”

Throughout the course of her 25-year career, the Berklee College of Music alumni's talent has resulted in two Grammy wins in 2014 and 2015 along with recording collaborations with Mary J. Blige, late jazz musician Joe Sample, and more recently Kendrick Lamar. She is also a national ambassador for breast cancer resource and awareness program, Circle of Promise.

For Hathaway, celebrating 25 years in music underscores her tireless efforts through the years.

“It’s so incredible to be 25 years in and to be at this point in my career where it’s still super fresh to me, I’m still excited about what I do. I’m not jaded. I love music so much. It’s such a part of what I do,” she said. “To get these kind of accolades -- to get the Grammys in the last couple of years back to back and have my highest charting debut yet -- it’s an indication that I’m on the right path. These are just those little moments in creation that’s the icing on the cake.”

Hathaway’s seventh album, “Lalah Hathaway Live” is also a testament to her growing fan base, as it was brought to fruition via a crowdfunding campaign with PledgeMusic. Despite her initial reluctance to record a live album -- recalling various executives telling her that “radio doesn’t play live records,” and “they don’t chart well" Hathaway says her fan’s involvement for the album helped push the boundary, pushing it to debut at #2 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums charts.

"A lot of my fans paid for my record before I started making it,” she told HuffPost. “I felt they were talking about it a year ago with the crowdfunding, and I won those two Grammys back to back walking into the situation. So that helped fueled some of the awareness of who I am. I think it’s all about awareness. It’s all about aligning yourself with the right people to expand your brand.”

Check out Lalah Hathaway’s performance of “Little Ghetto Boy” in the clip below.

Also on HuffPost

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