Calhoun Magazine

January - February 2017

Dalton Daily CItizen, Calhoun Magazine

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where Hayes encountered a hostile audience. "One concert in Germany he was booed for a very long time, almost ten minutes," Molleson said. "But he was so brave and did not move until the crowd hushed. They FKDQJHGWKHRUGHURIKLVSURJUDPDQGKHVDQJKLV¿UVWVRQJ in perfect German. They were astonished and gave him a standing ovation and he had them from then on. "I'm sure he wanted to turn around and just leave. But he was very brave and shared his talent and persevered. And once people heard his voice it was astonishing." Remembering Where He Came From Hayes rose to fame because of his talent, but also because of his unique performances. He never abandoned his roots and would often incorporate spirituals he was taught as a child into his concerts. These songs helped him gain SRSXODULW\DVDVLJQL¿FDQWSRUWLRQRIKLVDXGLHQFHVZKLFK were usually segregated, had never heard them. But it also kept him tied to his humble beginnings. As he became the highest paid musician in the world, Hayes bought the 623 acre farm in Curryville where he had lived as a child in 1927. Robert remembers the place fondly, but when asked about his favorite memory of his uncle, it was a recollection of a time his uncle made him feel special despite his elevated status. Hayes developed a relationship with Benjamin Mays, the longtime president of Morehouse College, and would come WR$WODQWDHYHU\\HDUWRSHUIRUPDWDEHQH¿WIRUWKHVFKRRO Robert recalls his uncle including him on such a visit. "My favorite memory was he used to come down to Morehouse College in Atlanta and would spend an afternoon with Benjamin Mays," he said. "I was worked at a Chevy auto dealership in Atlanta and would come meet him but by the time I got there they would usually be through eating. But we would get to hear him sing that night and we always looked forward to it. "One time, we got there and there was this big table full of food and he said to make room for me because I was his nephew. And it was so good. But then we spilled these candied yams on this beautiful white table cloth and he just laughed. I was just telling my wife the other day, he laughed better than anyone else." Unfortunately, even a performer and aristocrat of Hayes' status wasn't immune to the time period. Robert was alive and remembers one such incident in 1942. "He and his wife went to this shoe store in Rome and she wanted to sit down under a fan," Robert Hayes said. "But they didn't want her to sit there because people of color wasn't allowed to sit there. They called the police and put her and (Roland) in jail. The word got out and the governor made sure they was released. I was about eight when that happened." In addition to being arrested, Hayes was beaten by police while in custody. Soon after, he sold his property in Curryville. Leaving a Legacy Hayes continued to teach and work in Boston, but /HIW:RUOGUHQRZQHGWHQRU and singer of operatic arias, Roland Hayes was born in Gordon County. He performed throughout Europe and even sang for King George V and 4XHHQ0DU\,QKHZDV considered to be the highest paid singer in the world. Photo compliments of the Harris Arts Center. 5LJKW3RUWUDLWRIWHQRU5RODQG Hayes seated on sofa with wife Helen Alzada Mann and daughter, Afrika. Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public Library (E. Azalia Hackley Collection). Calhoun Magazine | January/February 2017 | 31

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