Donny Hathaway’s Iconic Holiday Anthem Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary With New Animated Video


December 11, 2020

This just made our day!

Donny Hathaway’s iconic holiday anthem celebrates its 50th anniversary with a new animated video, the Chicago Sun Times reports. 

“This Christmas” was released December 9th, 1970, on ATCO Records, written and performed by the late great Hathaway and lyricist Nadine McKinnor. The song, recorded at Chicago’s Audio Finishers Studio, gained modest success upon its initial release but didn’t really get its just due until 1991, being re-released on ATCO Records’ “Soul Christmas” album. Since then, it has been a cult classic and one of the most popular holiday tracks to date. It’s been covered by a bevy of artists, including Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige, Fantasia, Usher, John Legend, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and the singer’s daughter, Lalah Hathaway.


Now, in homage to the tune’s 50th anniversary, Rhino Records has released an animated video featuring Hathaway in the streets of Chicago on his way to work, eventually making his way back home to his family in Christmas. The video, complete with images from cartoonist Lonnie Millsap, features several Chicago landmarks, including Garrett’s Popcorn, Harold’s Chicken Shack, and State Street. 

Hathaway passed at the age of 33, just nine years after the song’s release. Still, Ric Powell, a drummer who was a part of the recording session, said the late singer knew the song’s lasting cultural implications, and he was intentional the entire way. 

“Donny was very upbeat during the session. He knew what he wanted to do musically and the impact he wanted to make with this song. Up until then, [Black American] music wasn’t represented in Christmas. There was Nat King Cole and Charles Brown’s ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas.’ During the mid-1960s, James Brown was also cutting holiday tracks…but they were more in the self-contained funky spirit,” Powell said. 


The iconic soul singer’s legacy lives on. Check out the new animated video below.

This Christmas will be a very special Christmas. Thank you Mr. Hathaway. 


Photo Credit: Getty Images/Stephen Verona 

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