This Day in Black History: Oct. 1, 1945

Donny Hathaway, the celebrated singer and composer, was born on Oct. 1, 1945.

There were few singers in the world of R&B who could match Donny Hathaway’s rich baritone texture. Indeed, Hathaway was one of the iconic singers of the 1970s. He became particularly well known for his collaborations with Roberta Flack, which were high on the charts. In 1973, he won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for the duet “Where Is the Love.” Hathaway was born in Chicago and began singing in a church choir at a young age. He studied on a fine arts scholarship at Howard University, where he met classmate and good friend Flack. Before long, he signed with a record company and his career took off. Hathaway is also known as the co-composer and performer of the Christmas standard, “This Christmas.” The song, released in 1970, has become a holiday staple and is often used in movies, television and advertising. He returned to the charts in 1978 after again teaming up with Roberta Flack their duet, “The Closer I Get to You.” Hathaway, who suffered from bouts of depression and paranoid schizophrenia, died in 1979 in New York City as a result of committing suicide.


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(Photo: Gilles Petard/Redferns)

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