Roland Hayes (June 3, 1887- January 1, 1977)
When asked the question, who were the famous African American singer/musicians to reach world acclaimed fame during the 1920s? I’m pretty sure the names Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Paul Robeson and Josephine Baker are at the top of that list. However, there was yet, another singer during this same period that many have either, never heard of or have overlooked. Perhaps, for the reason that this artist wasn’t in the mainstream (popular) music. This would be none other than, Roland Hayes; from Curryville, Georgia, (formerly, Little Row) and passed on in Boston, Massachusetts. Hayes was born 24 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and the son of a former enslaved parent. As you can imagine, considering the harsh struggles for economic equality for African Americans, heroically, Hayes was able to construct his career, literally from the ground up. Hayes was the first male solo artists to perform as a vocal entrepreneur. Performing domestic and international concerts and recitals. His interpretative singing was accompanied with such conviction that even the listeners felt compelled to make positive changes.
In 1948 Hayes published a collection book of his favorite songs called; My Songs: Aframerican Religious Folk Songs Arranged and Interpreted. This collection was carefully constructed with remarkable melody lines, historic insights and details concerning the text and the music. Envision if you will, you’re attending a classical recital that involves Art Songs. This songbook production carries those same concepts, grouping a set of songs together with folklore-poems and biblical texts.
Like Hayes, I was inspired to put together a concert/recital performing 20 selections from his songbook. In this concert/recital, I seek to help others understand the impact and contributions Roland Hayes has made in our world throughout history. My approach synthesizes elements of the Negro Spirituals, Religious Folk songs, and Spiritual-like tunes. The dialogue and partnership of this music passes on the heritage and tradition that connects our diverse cultures and generations, thereby enriching and strengthening our American intellectual achievements. I consider this to be one of the greatest honors for the reason that many of these songs are rarely or never performed; as a result, I have the good fortune, to continue touring, this wonderful production of Spirituals: CELEBRATING the MUSIC, LIFE, and LEGACY of Roland Hayes.
Contact: 202.276.6130 Jacksoncaesar@gmail.com
Photography- Shaun Schroth
Album cover design- Jhon Ochoa