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 Roland Hayes

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Roland Hayes

  • Birth 3 Jun 1887 Curryville, Gordon County, Georgia, USA
  • Death 1 Jan 1977 Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Burial Mattapan, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Memorial ID 27654832

Recital Singer. A tenor sometimes called "The Black Caruso", a comparison that really was not apt as the Italian had a much heavier voice, he was one of the premier classical artists of his day. Raised in North Georgia, he developed an early love for music, learning spirituals in church; relocating with his family to Chattanooga at 11, he was introduced to classical music via a Caruso record, studied at Nashville's Fisk University where he sang with the famed Fisk Jubilee Singers, moved to Louisville, and thence to Boston and once there sold insurance and worked odd jobs while starting his career as a recitalist. Mr. Hayes performed lieder and arias by Schubert, Mozart, and others, as well as the spirituals he had learned as a child, being heard with the Boston Symphony orchestra, the Philadelphia Concert Orchestra, and at the Atlanta Colored Music Festival. He toured the country but met with little success, then in 1920 went to Europe, continuing his studies, singing for King George V and Queen Mary, and receiving wide acclaim. Returning to America in 1922, his career finally took off and continued unabated until his 1962 retirement. He was the first black performer to sing at Carnegie Hall, singing there numerous times over the years, including at his farewell concert, and played the Hollywood Bowl. From 1950 until 1954, Mr. Hayes taught voice at Boston University. He received eight honorary degrees and in 1924 was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP. He lived out his days in the Boston Suburbs and at his death from the effects of advanced age, he left a large legacy of recordings, both of spirituals and classical songs, much of which is available on CD. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga opened the Roland W. Hayes Concert Hall in 1982 and today a portion of Georgia State Route 156 carries his name. His story is told in Christopher A. Brooks' 2014 "Roland Hayes: The Legacy of an American Tenor".

Bio by: Bob Hufford





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 18 Jun 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 27654832
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Roland Hayes (3 Jun 1887–1 Jan 1977), Find A Grave Memorial no. 27654832, citing Mount Hope Cemetery, Mattapan, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .