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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hump Day Slow Jam of the Week: Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack, "Where is the Love?"

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 11:44 AM

The Singers: Though born in Chicago, Donny Hathaway was raised in St. Louis: He grew up in a housing project in the Carr Square neighborhood and attending Vashon High School. Hathaway began singing gospel at a young age but made his mark in the soul scene back in Chicago. His most enduring composition is the holiday hit "This Christmas," though his 1972 collaboration with Roberta Flack (of "Killing Me Softly" fame) earned the duo a Grammy for this week's slow jam, "Where is the Love." Despite his cool exterior, Hathaway suffered from depression and paranoid shizophrenia, and he committed suicide in 1979. Hathaway is buried in the Lake Charles Cemetery in North City's Bel-Nor neighborhood.  

The Song: Taken from the album Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, "Where is the Love" is deceptive in its gentle, upbeat delivery. It's a break-up song, but Donny's strong, vibrant delivery and Roberta's feathery vocals convey more hope and love than anger and resentment.

The Video: Just a still-screen of the Flack/Hathaway album cover. It seems that none of the best slow jams have decent videos, so you'll have to draw a picture in your mind for this one. Though, if you and your sweetheart wanted to do a karaoke-style rendition of the song in front of your fireplace, it might look like this. Lovely.

Hipster Cachet: Bouffant-styled trainwreck Amy Winehouse gave a nod to "Mr. Hathaway" in her hit "Rehab," which makes sense given both singers' troubled pasts. Hathaway also recorded the theme song to the Bea Arthur TV program Maude, which is mocked in one of my favorite Family Guy clips. Watch below.


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