The Roland Hayes Museum honors the Gordon County native who was the first African-American classical singer to have an international career on the concert and operatic stage.
Hayes (1887-1977) opened doors for African-American concert and opera performers and elevated Negro spirituals (referred to by Hayes as the “Afro-American Folk Songs”) to the classical level, singing them in concert with operatic arias. After studying at Nashville’s Fisk University, Hayes performed at Carnegie Hall and Boston Symphony Hall. He toured the United States and Europe and performed for King George V and Queen Mary at Buckingham Palace. At the height of his half-century career, Hayes was one of the world’s highest paid singers. He made a number of recordings and published a book of his favorite spirituals entitled, “My Songs.” In 1991, Hayes was named to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. In 1995, an official State Historic Marker was placed in honor of Hayes at the Calhoun Civic Auditorium on property designated by the City of Calhoun as the Roland Hayes Park. Hayes had performed in the old auditorium, which stood on the site of the present auditorium.
The mission of the Roland Hayes Museum, a division of the Calhoun Gordon Arts Council is to honor the life and perpetuate the musical artistry of Roland Hayes.
Everyone is encouraged to visit “The Legacy of Roland Hayes”. This exhibit features photos, papers, and memorabilia from Hayes’ life. It is also now a permanent installation from The Hackley Collection (Detroit Public Library).
In February 2007, the Roland Hayes Museum moved from its old home on the second floor to the newly remodeled museum space on the first floor. The museum recently received a generous donation-the piano Roland Hayes played on his summer visits with his family in Gordon County. This beautiful piano was restored by Allen Gilreath and holds an honored spot in the museum. The Museum Committee has done a superb job of collecting and displaying memorabilia of this Gordon County native son and world-renowned concert singer.
Guided tours are available for groups upon request. Information is presented at appropriate grade levels for students. There is no charge for the museum tours, but donations, as well as sponsorships for new programs and concerts, are gratefully appreciated.
The museum has commissioned a professionally produced video on Roland Hayes, which is available to the public for viewing and purchasing.
- The VHS tape is $16.05, including shipping, handling, and sales tax
- The DVD is $20 + $1.40 sales tax (Georgia residents only,) and $2 shipping/handling = $23.40
Proceeds benefit the Roland Hayes Museum at the Harris Art Center.
The mission of the Roland Hayes Committee is to foster an appreciation for classical music, to promote the performance of classical music in the community and to honor the memory and spirit of Roland Hayes.The Roland Hayes Committee was formed in 1990 to advocate the induction of Roland Hayes into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.