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Lalah Hathaway goes live: ‘I wasn’t thinking about what other people thought’


Photo by Steed Media Service

Lalah Hathaway believes in following her instincts. The beloved vocalist returns this fall with her new album Lalah Hathaway: LIVE and she spoke to rolling out about what it means for her to tackle a live album and how winning a Grammy with Snarky Puppy (the acclaimed jazz band took home Best R&B Performance for “Something” in 2014) emboldened her to trust herself.

“I always wanted to do a live album but I always met so much resistance doing it. I wasn’t signed for a little while and I wasn’t thinking about what other people thought about what I did — and I won a Grammy,” she explains. “That solidified my desire to do what my instinct says and to follow my spirit.”

The live album was recorded at the Troubadour in Los Angeles this spring and Hathaway has released two songs from the project as singles, a cover of Anita Baker’s timeless hit “Angel,” as well as Lalah’s rendering of her father Donny’s indelible “Little Ghetto Boy.” She says a live album was a chance to combine all that she lives in performing with all that she loves about recording.

“I think for me the live experience is slightly different from the studio performance in the immediacy of the conversation with the audience. The air in the room making it something that’s specific to that moment. That’s why the live performance represents a different type of performance for me. But I really love doing both things.”

This is Lalah’s first project under a new partnership between she and eOne Music and her own Hathaway Entertainment. She’s been a major label artist and an indie artist at various points in her career and she wants to make sure that artists understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach to the industry — just be prepared to work.

“I think that there’s no approach that’s best. It really just depends on the artist,” Hathaway says. “I believe wholeheartedly that no matter whether you’re on a label or not, whether it’s an indie or huge label — you still have to treat your career as though you are an indie artist. Nobody is going to do what you’re going to do. A lot of times, being signed to a label is three times the work because you have to do your work and their work. I encourage artists to learn the business. Take a business class, take an economics class and apply those theories. Nobody is going to look out for you the way that you will look out for you and no one is going to hustle for you like you are going to hustle for you.

“I really enjoy what I do and I’ve always enjoyed what I do. It’s an evolution, I’ve been doing it since I was 3 or 4. Literally. I find new stuff every day. I meet people that I like playing with or meet people who spark my creativity or inspire me. Art is a never-ending process—inspiration. I find new records that I like every day and new music that I want to listen to every day. Its ongoing and I learn more about myself every time I approach it.”