The Genre of Donny Hathaway with Dr. Fredara Hadley

We share excerpts from today’s show and our conversation with Dr. Fredara Hadley about, as she said, the “genre” of Donny Hathaway.  The imperial design of copyright prevents us from sharing the music but we encourage folks to get their Donny Hathaway Live albums (mp3s, etc.) and listen along with our discussion of Hathaway’s importance to music and Black music history.

Our guest:

Dr. Fredara M. Hadley, is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Oberlin College. She is an ethnomusicologist who writes, teaches, and researches about Black music. Fredara is the founder of Jooksi, a company that provides music-based class and tours of New York City.

From the intro:
Greetings world and welcome to our special imixwhatilike birthday tribute special in honor of Donny Hathaway (October 1, 1945 – January 13, 1979).  October 1st would have been his 69th birthday.  In a moment we will be joined by Dr. Fredara Hadley who will help me to in particular, pay tribute to what is simply my favorite album of all time, regardless of genre.  It is in my humble and mildly informed opinion that Donny Hathaway’s Live album, released in 1972, is the best ever.  It is my island album, the one id take with me anywhere were i only able to take one. Its Donny’s voice and even more his piano playing and song arrangements; the soulfulness, funkiness and tightness of the band; it being intimately recorded and audience involved just makes it for me a perfect album.   The album is compiled of two live performances, one on each coast, LA and NYC, which to me also means even more since they were able to capture and sustain a vibe in multiple venues on multiple occasions.  Perfection.

This tribute also allows me to give honor to the moment i was introduced to this album.  It was a small moment during what was my absolute favorite time, prior of course to marriage and fatherhood, a time when i was playing drums in a funk band called Mama’s Biscuits.  From 1997-1999 no one funked harder in Western Maryland than Mama’s Biscuits.  Our name was taken from a verse by Method Man on Red Man’s album Muddy Waters.  A funk band named after a rap track on an album whose name was a play on that of a legendary blues man. We were eclectic but committed funkateers; and flawed as we were we did manage to produce a few magical moments, including a couple that involved attempts to cover this very album.  But it was a non-performance moment, when we weren’t playing at all, that stands out for me the most.  One day, sitting in his living room in Frostburg, Md. our brilliant front man, keyboardist and lead singer Geoff White dropped this album on an old turntable,  i remember first hearing that classic vinyl crackling as it began to spin… it was this and then it was over…

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