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5 Questions with Lalah Hathaway on New Album, 'Where It All Begins'

The soul songstresses speaks on her sixth album.
Her last name alone represents a standard of excellence. That might seem like a lot to lug around, but Lalah Hathaway carries the load well.  

Daughter of legendary soul singer Donny Hathaway, Lalah has created her own catalogue of respected albums over the past twenty years. Her latest project, “Where It All Begins,” (out today), continues to set the bar high.

ESSENCE.com spoke with Lalah about “Where it All Begins,” her sense of humor, and her father’s legacy.

ESSENCE.com: It’s been three years since your last project.  What have you been up to?
LALAH HATHAWAY: I’ve been touring, working on music, and developing ideas for this record.  I’m pretty much a working musician. I stay on the road. The last couple of years I did a lot of work with Kirk Whalum.  We had a record and DVD together and one of our songs won a Grammy, which was exciting. I also did records with Eric Roberson, The Floacist and Richard Smallwood. So, I’m always working.

ESSENCE.com: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about music since your first album was released over twenty years ago?
LALAH: Oh, gosh.  Well, I’m an eternal student. I’m one of those people that would always go back to college. I learn new things about music all the time. I listen to music every day. The great thing about music and art is that you can learn about it every day until you die and you still have more to learn. I learn all the time.

ESSENCE.com: What do you think your father’s legacy was and what do you hope yours will be?
LALAH: I think my father’s legacy is me, and my legacy is my dad.  What he was able to do in such a short time is incredible.  Thirty-three years later, he’s still relevant and present in the world.

ESSENCE.com: We hear you have a great sense of humor. Do you try to infuse that into your music? Is that possible?
LALAH: Yes, it’s very possible. As much as I count Miles Davis as an influence, I count Richard Pryor and George Carlin as influences too. It’s a hard thing to quantify, but humor is huge part of my life just like music.  So it affects and informs what I do with my art.

ESSENCE.com: It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. You’ve done some work for BCA. Are you still involved?
LALAH: Actually I am not, but it is something I still talk about. It’s important because women of color are the last to be diagnosed and the first to die. There are so many things, as a culture, we don’t talk about and I think it’s important to get the dialogue going. And because my album comes out this month, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s something I will be talking about for sure.