Honoring Isaac Hayes Through The Eyes Of His Daughter, Heather Hayes…

Isaac “Black Moses” Hayes, a self taught musician who expressed love, vulnerability and passion in his music, began his career working in local clubs in Memphis, Tennessee. He became a session musician for Stax Records and then partnered with David Porter and wrote some of the biggest hits in Soul music. The team wrote iconic songs like “Soul Man”, “Hold On I’m Comin'” and “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby” for R&B duo Sam & Dave and helped put Stax Records on the map!

When Isaac became a solo artist, his second album was the groundbreaking “Hot Buttered Soul ” in 1969. This album took R&B/Soul music to another level,  consisting of four songs, each more than five minutes long. The classic tune, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” was over eighteen minutes long.  The LP went number one on the Billboard R&B Album Charts and was certified Gold.

In 1971, Isaac Hayes composed the soundtrack for the movie “Shaft.” It was a career-and-life changing project for Isaac,  reaching the top of  the Billboard R&B and Jazz Album Charts, earning Isaac two Grammy Awards from the soundtrack as well  as being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the ‘Theme From Shaft’; in the process, Isaac made history by becoming the first Black artist to win a prestigious Oscar.  As a huge fan of Isaac Hayes and someone who has loved his musical genius for years, when he won that Oscar,  it was such a memorable moment for me, personally.

Isaac Hayes continued to record music up to the 1990s. He even became an actor starring in The Rockford Files, The A Team, and movies Escape From New York and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. He was also an on-air personality on the New York radio station 98.7 Kiss FM. He became popular again when he became the voice of Chef in the animated series South Park from 1997 to 2006. Mr. Hayes continued to tour well in the 2000s and won seven BMI Awards; in 2002, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Isaac appeared in the movie Soul Men in 2008; he passed away on August 10, 2008.

In January 2022, I was honored to interview his daughter, Heather Hayes on the Rhythm and Blues Preservation Society Monday Music Spotlight on Instagram Live. She spoke about how loving he was and sort of a jokester.  Heather talked about growing up in Georgia.

While attending a performing arts school she really didn’t let anyone know she was Isaac’s daughter because she wanted to be her own person. Her Dad was always supportive of her in whatever she pursued.  Heather also spoke about her Dad’s humanity and how he never forgot his humble beginnings, recalling that at times, he was homeless, ate out of garbage cans and wore hand me down clothes growing up.  She mentioned that whenever she started to complain, she thought about how her Dad lived  and realized how grateful and blessed she was. Heather spoke about his philanthropy work, created scholarships and literacy programs for children in America and Africa.

I asked her about the status of ownership of his music. She informed me know that her brother Isaac Hayes III, the Founder of Fanbase, is the Head of the Isaac Hayes Estate and controls the music catalogue of their Dad’s music. His music has been sampled by many artists such as Jay Z ,Beyonce, The Geto Boys, Mary J Blige, & The Notorious BIG.

I saw the love in her eyes that she has for him during our interview and how much she misses him. Heather is an accomplished singer in her own right and has sang background for Alicia Keys, James Brown, Beyonce and many others in the music industry. Heather also has her own band called The Heather Hayes Experience. She mentioned that having her own band, she really understands what her Dad went through with having one, like booking shows, rehearsals, and traveling as well.

Heather is also a member of The Daughters Of Legacy, a group comprised of other daughters of legendary Soul artists such as Millie Jackson, Betty Wright and Chaka Khan where they each perform the music of their parents.  It was a thrill to interview Heather: she is a founding supporter of the non-profit organization called the Rhythm and Blues Preservation Society with a mission to preserve the culture of Black music one record at a time.  Isaac Hayes not only influenced his daughter, but many musicians all over the world such as Deborah Cox, D’Angelo, & Outkast.

Thank you, Isaac Hayes for your musical contribution to Black culture and during Black Music Month June 2022, we honor you.

Perry Thompson is President and CEO of the Rhythm and Blues Preservation Society

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