Few figures exerted greater influence over the music of the s and s than Isaac Hayes ; after laying the groundwork for the Memphis soul sound through his work with Stax-Volt Records, Hayes began a highly successful solo career which predated not only the disco movement but also the evolution of rap. Hayes was born on August 20, , in Covington, TN; his parents died during his infancy, and he was raised by his grandparents. After making his public debut singing in church at the age of five, he taught himself piano, organ, and saxophone before moving to Memphis to perform on the city's club circuit in a series of short-lived groups like Sir Isaac and the Doo-Dads , the Teen Tones , and Sir Calvin and His Swinging Cats. In , he began his recording career, cutting sides for a variety of local labels. Two years later, Hayes began playing sax with the Mar-Keys , which resulted in the beginning of his long association with Stax Records. After playing on several sessions for Otis Redding , Hayes was tapped to play keyboards in the Stax house band, and eventually established a partnership with songwriter David Porter. In , Hayes issued his debut solo LP Presenting Isaac Hayes , a loose, jazz-flavored effort recorded in the early-morning hours following a raucous Stax party. With the release of 's landmark Hot Buttered Soul , he made his commercial breakthrough; the record's adventuresome structure comprising four lengthy songs , ornate arrangements, and sensual grooves -- combined with the imposing figure cut by his shaven head, omnipresent sunglasses, and fondness for gold jewelry -- made Hayes one of the most distinctive figures in music.
But there was more to Hayes than humor and sex. Hayes, by presenting himself with all the bravado of other soul men, but at half the volume, traded the big-voiced charisma that had defined soul in the nineteen-sixties for a more conceptual, introspective approach. But he was, in some ways, a race man cut from conventional cloth. He had been born into desperate poverty, and moved around to various parts of Tennessee, where his family nearly froze in the winters and starved all year long, and the experience radicalized rather than defeated him: he helped to register black voters in the South, pushed for greater black representation at Stax, and co-founded a group called the Black Knights, to protest police brutality and housing discrimination in Memphis.
Enter your The HistoryMakers username. Enter the password that accompanies your username. When his parents died at an early age, Hayes went to live with his grandparents in Memphis. Hayes was a good student in high school, wanting to be a doctor; in the ninth grade, however, he dropped out to earn money. Hayes later enrolled in a night school from which he earned his diploma in
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