This powerfully moving article remembers the story and charisma of Roland Hayes, the great and almost forgotten African American tenor. A classically trained musician, Hayes was as well known in his day as Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson, both of whom he mentored. Hayes introduced the beauty and joy of spirituals to concert audiences in Europe and America.
Roland Hayes touched the author’s life when she was a very young child. Her parents were faculty members at Black Mountain College. In mid 1940s North Carolina, her father committed what at that time was the revolutionary act of inviting Hayes to perform before an integrated audience. This memorable concert featured the son of freed slaves singing the European repertoire of Schubert and Bach and the African American folk tradition of spirituals.
Spirituals offer a religious attitude that intertwines African, Jewish and Christian roots with the practical function of conveying secret messages about the way to freedom— a peculiarly American blend of soul that has much in it to sustain us in difficult times.
Roland Hayes made a profound impression on the author. She invokes his spirit in this article and learns much about herself and about him.
Psychological Perspectives is a quarterly journal of Jungian thought published by the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles. Subscription information is available from http://www.junginla.org/psychpersp/.