Hayes, Roland
(1887-1977)
   African American singer and composer Roland Hayes was born the son of former slaves in Georgia but moved with his family to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1898. He studied at Fisk University, where he joined the Jubilee Singers in 1911. After touring nationally, Hayes traveled to London in 1920, and following a royal command performance, he toured throughout Europe performing a mixture of classical music with spirituals and other folk music and establishing his international reputation as the foremost black performer. He returned to the United States in 1923, became the first black singer to perform at the Carnegie Hall, and was awarded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Spingarn Medal in recognition of his achievements in 1924. In 1931, he sang at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., although his insistence on performing before an integrated audience apparently led to the subsequent all-white policy that led to his protégé Marian Anderson’s exclusion in 1939.
   In 1942, Hayes and his wife were involved in a confrontation with police officers in Rome, Georgia, when the singer refused to accept segregation. He was beaten by the police and subsequently moved out of Georgia. He continued to give limited performances up until and through to the 1960s, and his farewell concert at Carnegie Hall took place in 1962.
   See also Music.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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