"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Roland Hayes

This 1924 portrait of Roland Hayes (1887-1977) by Winold Reiss hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
“Born on the plantation where his mother had once been a slave, lyric tenor Roland Hayes found his voice while singing African American spirituals in the church choir. He first encountered classical music through a recording of Italian opera tenor Enrico Caruso. ‘That opened the heavens for me,’ Hayes later recalled. ‘The beauty of what could be done with the voice just overwhelmed me.’ Initially rebuffed by professional managers because of his race, Hayes arranged and promoted his own concerts, steadily gaining recognition while touring from coast to coast. In 1920 he traveled to Europe, where he gave a command performance for British royalty and won over a hostile crowd in Berlin. Returning to the United States in 1923, Hayes continued to break new ground, appearing as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and pushing for integrated seating at his concerts in southern cities.” – National Portrait Gallery

The Library of Congress has this 1954 Carl Van Vechten photo of an older Roland Hayes.


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