Singer Lalah Hathaway supports the players, but will not be watching the NFL this season
Her new album, ‘Honestly,’ is about using one’s platform to take a stand
Over the past couple of decades, singer Lalah Hathaway has more than carved her own space in music. Daughter of the incomparable Donny Hathaway, the five-time Grammy Award winner has toured with Prince and with Mary J. Blige, released seven albums and now has a new one on the way. Honestly, with its first single “I Can’t Wait,” is due this fall and is a return to something listeners of her early music will find familiar. “The record feels a little more rhythmic, but it’s also much like a record that I’d put out in the ’90s,” she said. “So for some it’s going to be more experimental, but for me, it’s … less of a vibe album and more of an electronic [one].”
The Chicago native stays busy performing, of course, catching up on HBO’s Insecure. But the Chicago Bears (and Walter Payton, and William “Refrigerator” Perry) fan says she is boycotting the NFL this fall — taking a stand is a prevailing theme of Honestly.
Who is your favorite athlete currently playing?
I’m super excited to see Venus [Williams] advancing. To watch Serena [Williams], and then to find out she was pregnant while she was winning, was just tremendous. Football season, though, is actually my favorite time of year. I did grow up in Chicago. I did grow up a Bears fan. I grew up a Walter Payton fan and a [William] ‘Refrigerator’ Perry fan. That time of year is so Chicago to me. Football has a special place in my heart, but I just haven’t been keeping up with it lately.
I’m sad about it. I’m kind of in boycott-the-NFL mode. I’m … disappointed with the show of support for [Colin Kaepernick]. I also understand that people still want to play, and have to play, and feed their families, and pay for their Bentleys, so I get all that s—. But for me, personally, it’s just … my mode of resistance this season.
What do you think about these new studies on CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and how it’s related to football. Did that factor into your decision not to watch?
We all know it’s a sport where you can get hurt. We all know it’s rugged. As a woman I’m probably a little more sensitive to it. If I had a son, I’d be supersensitive to it.
Who is your childhood hero?
That’s my mom for sure.
Craziest lie you ever told?
I once told a girl, when I was 11 or 12 years old, that I was dating either Starsky or Hutch, and she believed me. I don’t know how I convinced her of this. I think it was Hutch.
What’s your favorite social media app?
I’m compulsively on my socials right now. I go from Twitter to Facebook to Instagram to Twitter to Facebook to Instagram.
Who does your hair?
Natacha Fontin does my hair. She colors my hair and makes it superpurple. And then another lady twists me and her name is Chikodi Washington. I have over 160 locs on my head, and I get tired at about 17 if I do it myself.
What’s your favorite late-night food spot?
You know what’s crazy, I live in L.A. and L.A. is not a food town to me. If it’s really late and I’m hungry, I’m outta luck in L.A. Chicago is such a great food town, and Boston as well. There’s a Kitchen 24 that I like, and there’s 24-hour Popeye’s, but that’s about it.
Have you ever been starstruck?
On a couple of occasions. Prince left me pretty breathless every time I got to sing with him. I was starstruck working with Pharrell. He’s another one that I have so much respect for and have been wanting to work with for so long. I actually met Issa Rae at the Essence Festival and I was super starstruck.
So you’ve been keeping up with Insecure?
I’m on the road right now … but I’m home in a few days and I’m gonna catch up, probably all in one day. I love that show.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I have many. I don’t even know how guilty I am about that s— anymore. Any number of programs that appear on either Bravo TV or VH1.
When did you realize you were famous?
I still realize it every day. Fame is so relative, so people will walk by and say, ‘Hey, are you famous?’ And my response is, ‘Not if you don’t know me!’
What was your first major purchase?
When I was 21 I bought my first car. I bought a Nissan 240SX because I was in love with that car. I literally just gave it to a friend like three weeks ago. That car meant a lot to me — I don’t even know what I ended up paying for it.
What’s the most thoughtful gift you’ve ever received?
I have a really good boyfriend. We are a gadget/electronic type couple, so he constantly surprises me with s— that I would never get. Those things are really thoughtful to me because it’s stuff I wouldn’t know to buy, but he gets it for me. He’s very thoughtful that way.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.