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Isaac Hayes
a long time ago
" Memphis Soul Music Legend and 2002 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Isaac Hayes is one of the most influential musicians in America. The Academy and Grammy Award winning composer and singer’s orchestrations and personal style set trends in the cultural and music scenes of the 60’s and 70’s that are an intrinsic part of our psyche today.


The instantly recognizable beat of Shaft that immediately and urgently says “black man on the move” has become, along with, “We Shall Overcome “ one of the anthems of the era. Who can forget the visual and emotional excitement of seeing Isaac on stage with strong raised arms, redefine “Bad”, when he triumphantly wore chains, that were once a sign of degradation. Then move smoothly, with superb musicianship to lead an orchestra in riffs as elegant and complicated as an Ellington tune. Hayes’ music longevity and legitimacy deserve to be called part of America’s ‘classic music’.

Hayes Hot Buttered Soul album opened the doors to an entirely new sound - ‘Memphis Soul’, which would soon be emulated by Barry White, Curtis Mayfield, and others. Referring to the historical importance of the Memphis Soul sound Isaac personifies, Charlie McGovern, curator of cultural history in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History states that “What happened in Memphis was what happened in America” Isaac’s recordings with full orchestral support, set a new musical standard for soul music. He helped move soul from a singles to an album format. This spurred Black album sales for the first time, even requiring the music industry to adapt to a larger 12 inch LP record; simultaneously laying the foundation for today’s Hip Hop soul. Hayes’ legendary and internationally recognized score for Shaft revolutionized movie soundtracks and changed the whole concept of how audiences were pulled into a movie. Hayes successful career predated not only the disco movement, but also the evolution of rap.

The music and styling of the iconic Hayes continues to impact and is widely sampled by today’s biggest hip-hop, rap, and R&B artists. Since 1990, he has been sampled over 140 times by such artists as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, DJ Quick, Ice Cube; Destiny’s Child, TLC, Tricky, MASE, Portishead, Yo-Yo and the late TuPac and Notorious B.I.G. Meanwhile, everyone from The Temptations to the London Pops Orchestra has performed his music.


Hayes’ intelligent and insightful musicianship took an unsuspecting but ready world by storm. His signature baldhead, beard and shades, along with his flamboyant Afrocentric style became synonymous with the emerging Black manhood of the sixties and seventies. His individualistic style powerfully combined manly pride, political radicalism, freethinking, and unabashed sexuality. Director, John Singleton gives him an awesome historical positioning when he states that “ Isaac Hayes changed the way Black men saw themselves.”


Interestingly, though truly the voice for his age, over the span of his four-decade career, Hayes has managed to mean different things to each new generation. From his early days with Stax Records as one of the foundations of Memphis Soul, to his piloting of a funky 70’s R&B, to his role in creating the music that became synonymous with the Blaxploitation movie genre, as in 1988's I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, to his resurgence in the 90’s as the unmistakable voice behind South Park's animated Chef, Hayes has managed to leave a different personal stamp on each decade.

Isaac Hayes was born in Covington Tennessee, on August 20, 1942, to a sharecropper family. Raised by his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Willie Wade, Isaac’s memories of a country life that was filled with hard work, lots of love and plenty of homegrown good food enduringly shaped him. After making his public debut singing in church at the age of five, where he taught himself both piano, organ and saxophone the family moved to Memphis, where his grandfather became disabled and his grandmother and his greatest inspiration Rushia Addie Mae Wade become the breadwinner. He dropped out of high school, only to be encouraged later by his former high school teachers to get his high school diploma. He earned his diploma at the age of 21.

In Memphis, he performed in 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 1962, he began his recording career, cutting sides for a variety of local labels.

After working jobs as a cook, meat packer, and life insurance salesman, Hayes found his way to fame at Stax Recording studio in 1964, where he was tapped to play keyboards in the Stax house band backing up
Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, and William Bell eventually established a partnership with songwriter David Porter.

Under the name “ Soul Children”, the Hayes-Porter duo composed some 200 songs, reeling off a string of hits for Stax luminaries and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Sam and Dave (the brilliant "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby," "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Comin'"), along with Carla Thomas ("B-A-B-Y") and Johnnie Taylor ("I Got to Love Somebody's Baby," "I Had a Dream").

In 1967, Hayes issued his debut solo LP Presenting Isaac Hayes, a loose, jazz-flavored effort recorded in the early-morning hours following a wild Stax party. With the release of 1969's landmark Hot-Buttered Soul, he made his first commercial breakthrough. The record's daring structure (comprising four lengthy songs), lavish 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 distinct figures in music.



After a pair of 1970 releases, The Isaac Hayes Movement, he reached his commercial zenith in 1971 with the release of Shaft, the score from the Gordon Parks film of the same name. Not only did the album win Hayes an Academy Award for Best Score (the first African-American composer to garner such an honor), but the single Theme from 'Shaft,' a masterful blend of orchestrated prime funk and pre-rap monologues, became a Number One hit.

After 1971's superb Black Moses and 1973’s Joy, Hayes composed two 1974 soundtracks, Tough Guys and Truck Turner (in which he starred); by 1975, relations with Stax had disintegrated following a battle over royalties, and soon he severed his ties with the label to form his own Hot Buttered Soul label.
He recorded two records on his label 1975's Chocolate Chip and 1976's Groove-a-thon, both went gold. However, due to poor management and business associations, Hayes had no choice but to file for bankruptcy in 1976.

After the 1977 double-LP A Man and a Woman, recorded with Dionne Warwick, Hayes began a comeback on the strength of the hit singles “Zeke the Freak”, “Don't Let Go” and “Do You Wanna Make Love”. Following the success of his 1979 collection of duets with Millie Jackson titled Royal Rappin's, he issued a pair of solo records, the 1980's And Once Again and 1981's Lifetime Thing before retiring from music for five years.

After returning in 1986 with the LP U Turn and the Top Ten R&B hit Ike's Rap, Hayes surfaced two years later with “Love Attack” before again dropping out of music to focus on acting. In 1995, fully enshrined as one of the forefathers of hip hop, Hayes emerged with two concurrent releases, the vocal Branded and instrumental Raw and Refined.

As a performer and public persona, the past few years have found Isaac's career take off again. While diving into the advertising world with commercials for Pepsi and Burger King (writing and performing music for both), Isaac took on the morning slot at 98.7 KISS FM, quickly becoming KISS' top rated DJ, as well as the second most popular morning jock in New York. Perhaps the most unexpected twist in this rebirth is his appearance as the voice of Chef on the Cable Ace Award-winning animated show South Park. appealing to a whole new generation from ages 5 to 60

In late November 1998, Chef Aid: The South Park Album, based on an episode of the hit show, was released on Columbia Records/American Recordings, achieving RIAA certified platinum status in a matter of weeks. Appearing on four of the album's twenty-one tracks, including the number one UK single "Chocolate Salty Balls (P.S. I Love You)," Isaac has once again re-established himself as a platinum selling artist. As it stands, Chef Aid: The South Park Album is making its way towards double platinum in the U.S., triple platinum in Canada, triple platinum in Australia, and gold in the United Kingdom.


Isaac is also known as the voice of Nick at Night, and continues to record a classic “old school” music show from WRBO in Memphis five nights a week. He most recently was a co-host on the 2001 VH1 Music Awards and co starred on the CBS TV show hit series The Max Bickford Show, starring Richard Dreyfuss.

A longtime political activist and humanitarian, Isaac marched with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. just before his death, and was scheduled to meet with him the day he died. When speaking out against violations of human rights and drug abuse, Isaac doesn’t mince words-- as evidenced in songs like “Soulsville,” which describe the battle for equality, human dignity and the despair of the inner cities. He continues today to be committed to global activism and the human empowerment movement.

In the early nineties, Hayes was enthroned as an African king and a member of the Royal Family of Noyami Mantse in Ghana, West Africa. Nene (Chief) Katey Ocansey I as he is called, is responsible for assisting the economic development of the Ada region. Through his Isaac Hayes Foundation (IHF), he has built a state of the art technology center that teaches computer skills, and is projected to have video conferencing and distance learning facilities, that will bring worldwide educational opportunities to that impoverished area. Remembering his roots in poverty and those teachers that helped him to succeed; Isaac commits much of his time to IHF. The foundation’s mission is to help people to be whole by promoting literacy, nutritional education and innovative programs that raise self-esteem and teach young people how to study.

As the international spokesman for the Applied Scholastics World Literacy Crusade International (which currently has over 20 literacy programs in five countries with over 1,800 people participating), he has provided through the IHF, millions to help launch literacy programs.

The Isaac Hayes Foundation (IHF) also partners with other nonprofit organizations to support global causes that serve the needs of the community. Domestically, IHF programs include, celebrity benefit concerts, Literacy Links 2000 a middle school program in Memphis, and the Crusaders, a volunteer team of exhibition basketball players from all over the country who put on benefit shows for various causes.

Mr. Hayes pinpoints IHF’s essential charge when he states that, “We have the knowledge, technology, research, resources and experience…Let’s turn crime, illiteracy, unhealthy, unproductive poverty lifestyles around from the ground up…One child, one community at a time- we can change the world! Let’s give our children our best”

Author, musician, singer, actor, radio personality, philanthropist and cook - Isaac Hayes is all of these, but what he loves most is getting together with family and friends and making music in the kitchen. Isaac is the author of a popular cookbook, now in its second printing, “Isaac Hayes Cooking With Heart & Soul” published by Putnam Books penguinputnam.com .

From the southern country food of his youth - and the lessons learned at his grandmother's side in the kitchen - to the healthy cuisine that he prefers today, this wide-ranging collection of recipes is seasoned with stories from Isaac's life, and garnished with his reflections about home and family and living well.

An astute businessman, Isaac has turned his love of cooking and passion for music into opening restaurants, the first in his beloved Memphis, with a planned six more on the boards in the US and at least three abroad. “Isaac Hayes Music, Food and Passion” Restaurants feature the best in live music nightly, real home style cooking, Isaac Hayes memorabilia from the 60’s to today and select drop ins and performances by Isaac and many of his celebrity friends.
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When Hayes looks back on myriad inspirations, that range ubiquitously from the lessons of Mrs. Rushia Addie Mae Wade, to Memphis Blues, Gospel, R&B, Poetry, Classical Music, World Music, Jazz, Scientology, World Events and just the man on the street; down to a need for - an urban music, a black music, for a real peoples music - that transcends beyond hip hop, R&B or any label. He plays it out like this, “Yeah, you must remember your roots. And always cherish and embrace the teachings of those that are older than you. And remember to be as flexible as you possibly can. A willow bends in the wind, the one that resists breaks. You have to store enough so when the hard times come, you can survive it. You got to constantly recreate yourself. You got to be loose and flexible to do so. You have to continue to expand."

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