Roland Hayes

1887 - 1977


Roland Hayes (1887-1977) was a famed tenor and composer. He is considered to be the first African American male concert artist to receive wide international acclaim as well as at home. He attended Fisk University in Nashville, TN, and toured with the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Shortly after graduating, he began with arranging his own recitals and made his official debut in 1915 at Boston's Symphony Hall which received critical acclaim. In 1917, he toured with the Hayes Trio which he formed with baritone William Richardson and pianist William Lawrence who was his regular accompanist. Also a composer, He published a collection of spirituals in 1948 as My Songs; Aframerican Religious Folk Songs Arranged and Interpreted, a collection of African American religious folk songs. Among his recognitions were the Spingarn Medal presented to him by the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) in 1924, eight honorary academic degrees, and induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1991. In 1950, Hayes commenced a four-year stint teaching voice at Boston University, and in 1962, at age 75, he gave his farewell concert at Carnegie Hall. The Roland W. Hayes Museum in Calhoun, Georgia opened its doors in the year 2000.