After interviewing several locals and celebrities, I have to say that it was a special honor and privilege to welcome five-time Grammy-winning R&B artist Lalah Hathaway to Southern Laced. The soulful singer, songwriter, and producer holds the record for consecutive wins in the R&B category. From collaborations with the likes of Pharrell Williams (Hidden Figure Soundtrack), Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp a Butterfly), Robert Glasper, Gregory Porter, Tiffany Gouché, The Internet, Hiatus Kaiyote, Terrace Martin, KING, Thundercat, and Kamasi Washington and others, to receiving the 2017 Grammys for Best Traditional R&B Performance “Angel” and Best R&B Album “Lalah Hathaway Live”, the daughter of legendary Donnie Hathaway will be releasing a new album entitled “Honestly” in the Fall. The first single, “I Can’t Wait”, off her new project was officially released on July 21, 2017.
Check out what she had to say about her new release, upcoming album, Mary J. Blige’s “Strength of a Woman” Tour and more below!
Question: We had a chance to check out the first single from your upcoming project. It’s a very up-tempo song. It’s definitely a switch from what we are accustomed to hearing from you. Tell us about “I Can’t Wait” and what headspace you were in when you made the track.
Lalah: Every record we make sort of measures up. You can go back to my first record “Heaven Knows” and “Baby Don’t Cry”. They were kind of measuring up. So in making a record this time while working with Tiffany Gouché, I decided that I wanted to create something that would inspire movement.
I think a lot of people, depending on how they connect to me, are used to the downtempo sort of ballads and live music. I was just ready for a pattern interrupt more so for you guys than for me.
I create a lot of different kinds of music and I participate in a lot of different kinds of music. So for me, this is not so different. It’s just another piece of who I am. I really wanted to give something that people could escape into because there’s so much happening.
Music is my passion. It’s my love. It’s something I get up thinking about. But it’s also a mode of resistance. So for me to create a mood for people is what I wanted to do with this record.
Question: As far as your new album, “Honestly”, do you think your personal experiences caused that new vibe?
Lalah: Yes! It’s my whole life. It’s everything. As an artist, everything that happens from day to day, it forms your art. Right now, I just happen to be looking to create music as a mode of resistance to what is happening in the world.
So although my record is not like a protest record, it is absolutely a record of resistance. I refuse for anything that is happening in the world to steal my joy. So in that way, it’s my mode of resistance.
Five-Time Grammy Winning Lalah Hathaway, Avery*Sunshine, Avant, & Jon B to Perform At Atlanta’s Fox Theatre On Sept. 16th
Question: You’ve collaborated with Pharrell Williams and Kendrick Lamar. And you’re very soulful. You have a mixture of vocal ranges. How important is it to work with artists that are definitely diverse in their sound.
Lalah: My career has always been as a musician. So being a musician comes to me before being a recording artist.
In the last 25 years, to be able to work with Pharrell, Kendrick, Nancy Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Robert Glasper, Mary J. Blige, Prince, and Snoop Dog has been so informative. I’ve learned so much watching these artists and they have all informed my art.
So it’s very important for me to collaborate in as many forms of greatness as I can because I really feel like it rubs off on me and I learn so much. And to me, it’s a collaborative effort. It’s hard, you know. Everybody is not Prince. (laughs) And even for Prince, he had his music. He had things that set him off. For me, it’s about trying to stay in that light of greatness…. trying to be around people I know I’m going to learn from.
Question: You’re on the Mary J. Blige “Strength of a Woman” Tour. How powerful is that for you to be part of that?
Lalah: It was wonderful. We just finished. It was a really sublime experience for me being out there in front of all of those folks. Particularly the women… empowering women and watching Mary, which is somebody I have known and admired for many years. Watching her evolve and grow into the performer and the businesswoman that she is has been really inspiring and nice to watch up close. We had a lot of fun.
It was six weeks. I’m calling it the longest moment in R&B history that I have ever had. We really enjoyed ourselves and we are thankful for the opportunity to get in front of so many people.
Question: Do you think this tour was more of a woman empowerment tour?
Lalah: It was that and kind of a mutual musical respect. I think it was a combination of things, but I know that particularly right now, Mary J. Blige is having a moment in history that we can all see. It is literally strengthening her day by day and we are watching it happen. So that was really a beautiful thing to watch her express it on stage. To be able to add to that and accompany her in this time was really great.
Question: Most of our readers may not know that you’ve stepped into the room of CEO and record label owner. What motivated you to become the leader of a record company? And what do you hope to accomplish with it?
Lalah: You know what’s interesting? Even signing to a major label like Virgin and being signed to other labels, I have always been sort of an independent-minded artist. And I think that most artist that are successful are that way. Even when you are inside a label situation, you do sort of operate as the CEO of your own situation.
So for me, to really declare it, finally, is kind of like exhaling into the moment. What I hope to really accomplish with the label is to be able to present more music, more often and some more sourcers.
I look forward to presenting different music from different people. But I really look forward to making some really cool project albums.
Just experiencing music the way that I want to and giving it to you the way that I want to give it to you… I’m most excited about that concept.
Question: As a label owner, what types of artists are you looking for?
Lalah: Really great ones. I’m really interested in people that are passionate about music and are great at it. So really, my only prerequisite for working with musicians is that they are great and want to be greater. I know that seems like a really obtuse answer, but I’m looking for greatness. I’m looking for people that are striving to be extraordinary. I’m not really interested in mediocre… ever.
Question: Currently, you have a record label and worldwide recognition for your music and style. You’ve also collaborated with many artists from all types of genres. What does your next milestone entail?
Lalah: “Honestly” is coming out in the Fall. I think the next milestone is getting the music to as many people as possible.
The music industry is strange. When you announce that you are putting out a record in eight weeks, people are already asking what’s next. The record is really, truly what’s next! So I look forward to playing it live for people. We previewed some of it during the “Strength of a Woman” tour. The feedback we received was tremendous. So I look forward to creating my own show for people to see across the country and across the world.
Question: Let’s talk about “Lalah Hathaway Live”, which is your live album. Your father, the legendary Donnie Hathaway also had a live album. Can you tell us about some of the obstacles you faced before releasing it?
Lalah: The live album is something that I’ve always wanted to do my entire life. In the 90’s I started talking with my label reps about creating a live record or double record… just things that I thought were different. And it was always met with opposition.
To have crowdfunded most of that record and created it in the same room that my father created “Donnie Hathaway Live”, we won every award we were nominated for. We won three Grammys for that record.
The record really taught me to follow my instincts artistically. It taught me that a lot of times, people will throw roadblocks in your way just because they don’t have faith in your dreams. But I don’t expect anyone to have faith in my dreams anymore. I hold my stuff to a different standard. My dreams are my dreams. I just go for them now.
It really put the period at the end of that statement, “Follow your instinct. Follow your own path.”
Question: What can we expect from your new album “Honestly”? Will there be any collaborations?
Lalah: The only collaboration I have is with Lecrae on one of the songs. He’s a rapper who is excellent and inspiring. Other than that, you can expect a full record of original music. There are no features on it. There are no covers on it. It’s just a full new statement.
I’m just so excited to hear you guys feedback on it when it comes out. I feel like you all are going to feel like it’s very different from what I generally present or have presented in the last ten to fifteen years. So I’m excited for the pattern interrupt and for people to say, “What? Lalah Hathaway? What? She’s moving around and singing? What?” I’m very excited for that moment.
FOLLOW LALAH ON SOCIAL MEDIA SITES @LALAHHATHAWAY!