Where It All Begins with Lalah Hathaway: Two Decades of Soulful Hits
Music has long been regarded as the highest form of art. It requires an immense amount of passion and dedication to meet the masses approval and the sultry and talented vocalist, Ms. Lalah Hathaway has more than enough of both to claim her spot on the music scene. With a career spanning two decades, daughter of the legendary soul singer, Donny Hathaway, Lalah has released her sixth studio album, Where It All Begins. On the project she continues to show new facets of her personality. Among those she expresses her deep love for her craft, her ever changing life, as well as her self professed “techy-ness”. Check out what she has to say about this new chapter in her life in our exclusive interview.
Parlé Magazine: Most of us know that your musical background may have been influenced by your father’s career, but what made you want to pursue your own career in music?
Lalah: You know it was really in me before I realized I wanted to do it. Music was a very natural space for me to live in having always been a creative individual. There was never a time where I said “you know what, hey, I’ll do music”. I always wanted to dance or act or sing or do magic and stay in that space.
Parlé: Sounds like you really were developing that performing gene very early on. Of the many things’ you’ve done what would be your favorite thing about them and the career you’ve chosen?
Lalah: I really enjoy the live performance aspect of what I do. I really like being able to make these records, which become your legacy, and then go have conversations with people about this music and get that immediate feedback which I thrive on.
Parlé: Speaking of creativity, you’ve been doing this for quite sometime now. What keeps you motivated to do more and expand?
Lalah: I reeaaally Love music! (Laughs)
Lalah: It’s really simple, it makes me laugh, makes me cry and one of the real tangible things in my life just like any man or woman that’s been in my life. It’s always been there at every turn, every landmark and milestone and has had like a human presence as long as I can remember. I love music like I would a person and that keeps inspiring me to keep going.
Parlé: And like people, music always changes, which brings me to your new album Where It All Begins, which holds a much more upbeat vibe than your recent music. Why the change?
Lalah: You know my first record did include a lot of stuff that was up tempo but I think that particularly after the Joe Sample album people saw me more as a Jazz or a Blues singer, which is cool because I do that too. Really it’s just a different side of my personality. I am a person who likes Snoop or DJ Quick and likes to go dancing and has the big sub- woofer in the back of my truck. (Laughs) I really just like to do a lot of things with the intention of doing them well so this is just a chance to present a brighter color of me. Just adding more colors on the pallet.
Parlé: It’s always nice to switch it up as no one likes the same old thing, but do you think your current fan base will receive it well?
Lalah: I really think that most of my fans or people drawn to me at all will get it. You know back in the day if you purchased the Chaka Kahn record it may have had a Beatles cover on it, a Rick James duet and it didn’t matter how much stuff was on the record it was the fact that the thread of the record was still her. That’s where we are with it, so I can’t imagine that people would say that “I like her sound but I don’t like the song, so I won’t like the record”. That’s too much, they wouldn’t be a fan.
Parlé: Cool, now given the fact that your last record dropped back in 2009, did the creative process of trying something new take a lot of time? Why the gap?
Lalah: Ummm it happens. (Laughs) It used to be, when I was growing up, that people would put out a record and go away for a year or two. It’s a different time now. Now it’s so much about the concentration of it and really saturating the market with album after album. Although I will be making records at a faster pace than I ever have in the past I think with me it’s always been all about making the record that I want to make. I can wait for the right time as long as I feel it’s the right record.
Parlé: I assume when you take your time the creation of the songs are really meaningful. A few songs that stood out to me were “Small Of My Back,” “Lie to Me” and “If You Want To.” Are there any that really stood out or were important for you?
Lalah: I don’t really have a favorite. I do like all the ones you mentioned but I kind of gravitate between them right now. It’s just so hard to choose, like when someone asks me who my favorite singer is, it’s just so hard to pick one. I will say this is my favorite of all my records to date.
Parlé: And Spanning 20 years of work with six records completed how does it feel to have come so far?
Lalah: Crazy. And it really feels like after 20 years I’m at the beginning, hence the title. I really do feel like I’m at the top of my game vocally and with what I can do and just now getting to the point where I can say “wow, I can do a lot more”. After all these years I feel like I’m at the beginning of the next 20.
Parlé: I understand one of your new endeavors for the next 20 years is to explore more of your love for technology through a Facebook app. Can you tell me more about that?
Lalah: The app is really cool because it gets people involved by sharing the songs from the album which is what they world naturally do anyway. We’re asking people to log into Facebook and the app, then pick four of their friends to share it with and each week someone will win an autographed C.D. And the fact that it’s a Facebook app for me is great because I’m such a geek. (Laughs) It’s really cool way to try and get in front of as many people as possible.
Parlé: I hear you’re a big Apple and app fan in general, any chance there will be a Lalah Hathaway app on the market soon?
Lalah: I’m on my iPad right now (LOL). I hope so! I’m working on it right now, I don’t know what it’s going to do but it will have to be something cool like syncs with your Xbox or something for your car, something that’s cool and useful.
Parlé: Either way I’m sure it will be great addition to all the app’s everyone has now.
Parlé: It was a pleasure speaking with you today and thanks for taking out the time to speak with us. I hope this and the next album brings you much success.
Lalah: Absolutely, anytime and I appreciate you.
Images by Derek Blanks
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