- Jason Miller
musician, singer, and actor. Hayes was born in Covington, Tennessee, a tiny town in the westernmost part of the state, to Isaac Hayes and Eula Hayes, who were sharecroppers. Hayes's parents died when he was very young, and he and his sister Willette were raised by their mother's parents, Willie and Rushia Addie-Mae Wade. Hayes spent much of his early childhood in the cotton fields of Covington, and it was in Covington too that he made his musical debut, singing one Sunday at a church service. Two years later, when Hayes was seven, the family moved to Memphis in search of better jobs and higher wages.
Despite the family s optimism difficult times lay ahead Willie Wade took work in a factory but a few years later he fell ill and died Hayes was forced to take whatever odd jobs he could find to help ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.