Monday, February 24, 2014

The Roland Hayes Program

Who is Roland Hayes? Last week, Gaithersburg Library hosted a Black History Month recital featuring spirituals arranged by Roland Hayes - a world renowned lyric tenor considered to be the first African American male concert artist to receive wide international acclaim in the 1920s.
 Cover of Hayes' My Favorite Spirituals songbook, originally published in 1948.

According to Contemporary Musicians (accessible via Biography in Context, one of MCPL's biographical databases), "Hayes shattered the color barrier in the world of classical music, becoming one of the highest paid musicians of his time and paving the way for later African American singers.” It is important to note that Hayes, a black man, experienced such widespread eminence during the Jim Crow era in American history.
The concert was performed by B. Jackson Caesar,  an accomplished vocalist from Washington, D.C. who is also a Hayes historian. Piano accompaniment was provided by Alma Sanford. Caesar engaged the audience with his beautiful tenor vocals and animated performance. It was truly a treasured evening for all attendees!

Photo of Caesar's performance at Gaithersburg Library.
The audience was captivated by Caesar's renditions of Hayes' spirituals.

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