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In the spring
2003, one year after his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame
and a celebrated move back home to Memphis, the public persona of Isaac
Hayes is surging forward with a momentum usually associated with teen
popstars and visiting royalty. In fact, Hayes is resident royalty for
more than a decade, a coronated King of the Ada coastal district of
Ghana in western Africa where he is a member of the Royal Family.
Instead of a palace, he built an 8,000 square foot educational facility
through his Isaac Hayes Foundation (IHF). He is most certainly the only
King on earth with an Oscar, Grammy Awards, #1 gold records, his voice
on an animated tv series, a radio show, two restaurants, a best-selling
cookbook, and top secret barbecue sauces.
In Memphis, his five-hour nightly radio shift on WRBO Soul Classics 103.5 FM is still the #1-rated show in town in its third year on the air. The city has taken to a new slogan: "Memphis: Home of the Blues, Birthplace Of Rock 'n Roll," underscored by the Smithsonian's Memphis Rock 'n Soul Museum just off Beale Street, the institution's first permanent exhibition outside Washington, DC, and New York. On May 2nd, Hayes presided over the opening day ceremonies of Soulsville, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, a $20 million redevelopment project. It is located at a legendary address, 926 East McLemore Avenue, the revitalized original site of the record company where Hayes got his start in 1962. He has also been an integral fundraiser (and consciousness raiser) on behalf of the Stax Music Academy next door, a facility where he and others will develop and teach future Memphis musicians.
Back on 'RBO, you're likely to hear a number from one of the stars of Only The Strong Survive (Miramax), which premiered on May 9th, D.A. Pennebaker's documentary film tribute to Hayes and his contemporaries including Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave), Rufus & Carla Thomas, Jerry Butler, William Bell, Wilson Pickett, and others. Stay tuned and you might hear a track from Isaac Hayes At Wattstax (Stax/Fantasy), an hour-long CD of unreleased music from 1972's historic concert movie event. The new CD was issued in April in advance of the 30th anniversary restoration of the film which opened on June 6th, Wattstax - The Special Edition (Sony Pictures Repertory). It was just three years ago when the new Shaft movie soundtrack was released, featuring Hayes' "Shaft 2000" theme, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the granddaddy of Blaxploitation films.
Not far away from the radio station, over in the Peabody Place Entertainment Center a block from Beale Street, Hayes holds forth on a regular basis in the centrally located 'Owners Booth' of his acclaimed restaurant, Isaac Hayes Music-Food-Passion (a partnership with Lifestyles of Memphis). He often performs with whoever's on the bandstand there, or at the sister restaurant of the same name up in Chicago, which is located on North Clark Street in the trendy River North section. The best in live music, real home style cooking (barbeque ribs shipped overnight anywhere in the country!), lots of Isaac Hayes memorabilia to catch the eye, and select drop-ins and performances by Hayes and many of his celebrity friends have made the restaurants wildly popular.
Doors away from both restaurants is a busy Isaac Hayes Cooks & Wares store, where you can pick up Ms. Pearlie Biles' latest sauce creations, or the double-boiler needed to prepare a batch of Chocolate Salty Balls at home, according to the recipe in Cooking With Heart & Soul: Making Music in the Kitchen with Family and Friends. The autobiographical cookbook, published by Penguin-Putnam and now in its third printing, is a treasury of personal memoirs and recipes, not just the author's favorites but also others from such friends as John Travolta (Hamburger Royale With Cheese), Lisa Marie Presley (Banana Pudding), Wesley Snipes (Rum-Glazed Cornish Hens With Apple-Sourdough Stuffing) - and Chef, the irrepressible ladies man, dispenser of wisdom, and voice of mischief and higher learning on South Park.
2003 is the seventh season on cable tv's Comedy Central that Chef is cooking up scheme after scheme on South Park. He is the perfect alter ego for Hayes and provided him with a solid #1 single in England back in '98, when "Chocolate Salty Balls (P.S. I Love You)" became the flagship hit for Chef Aid: The South Park Album (Columbia). Since then, Hayes has established himself as the familiar voice of Nickelodeon's "Nick At Nite" program block. At the same time, 2002 marked his sixth and final year on New York's KISS-FM in the morning, the city's top-rated Urban radio show since '96 - the same year Hayes contributed "Two Cool Guys" to the Beavis and Butt-Head Do America movie soundtrack. If anyone knows a thing or two about bridging both sides of the generation gap, it is Isaac Hayes.
Isaac Hayes was born in the rural poverty of a sharecropper's family on August 20, 1942, in Covington, Tennessee, about thirty miles south of Memphis. Orphaned in infancy, he and his sister Willette were raised up by their maternal grandparents, Willie and Rushia Addie-Mae Wade. They instilled love in Hayes for the simple pleasures of country life. "We raised our own foods," he says, "we raised most of our crops, we had cattle, we had pork. Our corn was ground at the grist mill and we had molasses at the sorghum mill. A sack of flour would last several months. My grandmother did a lot of canning, preparing food and putting it up in the winter. My grandfather would go hunting and bring in a bunch of rabbits, so we were good. When we came to the city of Memphis, we didn't have anything to compare it to."
Memphis was supposed to represent new opportunity, and it did for awhile, as the 7-year old saw his first supermarket and enjoyed his first Popsicle, and grandfather found work at a tomato factory. But soon his health failed, he became disabled, and when Hayes was 11, his grandfather died. "That's when we really fell on hard times," Hayes remembers, "when I started doing the agricultural work like picking cotton." Ironically, his stately home today in East Memphis looks out on those same fields where cotton grew for nearly two centuries. As a youngster he ran errands, cut lawns, delivered groceries and wood to homes for fuel, cleaned bricks for two cents apiece, and shined shoes on Beale Street.
Later on, working as a bus boy and dishwasher at a restaurant, "one day it was kinda slow and I told the cook, 'I been watching you, lemme do a hotdog.' And he said, 'ok, come on do it,' so I prepared an artful hot dog, stuck it up in the window, tapped the bell and stepped back, watched the waitress deliver it, the guy ate it, and it was cool. I started doing some catfish, some hamburger steak, and the guy loved it. I eventually began doing a little short order cook stuff."
To an adolescent, the poverty was stifling; combined with the self-consciousness brought on by puberty, believing he wasn't dressed sharp enough to attract the girls, Hayes secretly dropped out of Manassas High School. After six weeks, a delegation of teachers arrived at the house and told his grandmother the news. "God, I felt like I had gone through the floor, but they said, 'This young man has too much to offer, we cannot afford to lose him.'" The teachers gathered their hand-me-down clothes for Hayes, who resolved to stick it out and get his diploma. The experience left an indelible mark on him for life, and Hayes' dedication to literacy, education and teaching initiatives is an outgrowth of what those teachers did for him. Years later, when the State Of Tennessee honored him with a marker, Hayes chose to place it at Manassas High.
Hayes sang in church since age five, but stopped when his voice cracked in adolescence. Years later, "when I started back singing, my voice was in the basement." He was persuaded by his high school guidance counselor to enter a talent show, singing "Looking Back," Nat King Cole's 1958 hit. "When I finished, the house was on its feet, man, and I was a hit." Overnight the girls, even those a couple of grades ahead, were sending lunch invitations. "Career change! So I started pursuing music big time."
He joined the school band and learned to play saxophone from Lucian Coleman (brother of hard-bopper George Coleman). Hayes sang gospel with a group called the Morning Stars, doo-wop with Sir Isaac & the Doo-Dads, the Teen Tones, and the Ambassadors, even some jazz with the Ben Branch house band at Curry's Club Tropicana out in north Memphis. He started playing sax and singing blues with Calvin Valentine and The Swing Cats, and doing prom dates with The Missiles. He took a crash course learning piano by literally faking it for the first time on a New Year's Eve R&B job at the Southern Club with Jeb Stuart, "because I needed the money."
Hayes was finally graduated at age 21 from Manassas, Class of 1962. It was the year after the first releases began to trickle out of a new label called Stax Records, part of the Satellite Records company and Satellite Record Store that started back in '58, housed in the old Capitol Theatre on the corner of College & McLemore. Hayes had won seven college scholarships for vocal music that he chose not to pursue. Instead, he became adept enough at the piano to land a job with baritone saxophonist bandleader Floyd Newman at the Plantation Inn across the river in West Arkansas. Newman was also the staff baritone musician on Stax recording sessions and was up for a date himself with his own working group in late 1963: "Frog Stomp," the only solo single ever cut by Newman, was co-written by and features Hayes (on piano), the first major notch in his discography at Stax Records.
"During the time that I was there," Hayes recalls of the session, " Jim Stewart, the proprietor of Stax looked at me and said, 'Look, Booker T is off in Indiana U., from Booker T & the MG's, and I need a keyboard player so you want the job?' 'Yeaaa!' I jumped at it." His first paid sessions were with Otis Redding in early 1964, and Hayes was soon a ubiquitous presence at Stax. Not long after, co-writer and producer David Porter suggested to Hayes that they collaborate as songwriters. After a few modest starts for Porter ("Can't See You When I Want To"), Carla Thomas "How Do You Quit [Someone You Love]"), and Sam & Dave ("I Take What I Want"), "everything just blew up big time," Hayes says.
As writers (under the name 'Soul Children'), arrangers and producers, the Hayes-Porter duo became Stax's hottest commodity starting in 1966-67. Sam & Dave's "You Don't Know Like I Know," "Hold On! I'm Comin'," "Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody," "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby," "I Thank You," "Wrap It Up," and the R&B Grammy Award-winning "Soul Man" were among some 200 Hayes-Porter compositions that became standards. For Carla Thomas there was "Let Me Be Good To You," "B-A-B-Y" and "Something Good (Is Going To Happen To You)." Johnnie Taylor scored with "I Had a Dream" and "I Got To Love Somebody's Baby." Mable John's one and only hit was Hayes-Porter's "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)." Presenting Isaac Hayes, his debut solo LP was recorded as a trio (with MG's bassist Duck Dunn and drummer Al Jackson) in the wee hours after an all-night Stax party. The intimate, sensual jazz-flavored jam session approach (including three 9-minute versions of standards) did not reach the charts, but served as a blueprint for future LPs.
Hayes' work with Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Booker T & the MG's, the Mar-Keys, the Bar-Kays, Rufus & Carla Thomas, and virtually the entire Stax roster created what was known as the Memphis Sound. It transformed popular music, was absorbed by everyone from Elvis Presley and Ray Charles to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. History notes that, with the exception of Booker T & the MG's, Isaac Hayes worked on more Stax sessions and tracks than any other musician.
On April 4, 1968, as Stax Records was finalizing its sale to Gulf & Western Corporation, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel in downtown Memphis. Hayes, who had marched for Civil Rights with King, was scheduled to meet with him that very day. "It affected me for a whole year," Hayes told Rob Bowman in Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story Of Stax Records. "I could not create properly. I was so bitter and so angry. I thought, What can I do? Well, I can't do a thing about it so let me become successful and powerful enough where I can have a voice to make a difference. So I went back to work and started writing again."
He emerged in the summer 1969 with the landmark Hot Buttered Soul, and the career of Isaac Hayes would never be the same again. The LP was uniquely composed of four lush, sensual arrangements, framed by the opening 12-minute version of "Walk On By" and the closing 18-minute take on "By the Time I Get To Phoenix." Both were edited into a double-A sided single, and both sides became top 40/R&B crossover hits. #1 on the Billboard R&B chart for 10 weeks, the LP stayed on the Pop chart for an amazing 81 weeks. It forced the music industry, for the first time, to conceive of Soul music as an album art form. In a new emerging age of Afro-centrism and Black Power, devoting the entire LP cover to Hayes' shaven head was a revolutionary statement.
Hot Buttered Soul was issued on the new Stax subsidiary label Enterprise (yes, named for the "Star Trek" spaceship) for whom Hayes would record for the next five years, and deliver a record-setting seven #1 R&B albums - more #1's than any artist of the period. In fact, Hayes charted a phenomenal 20 albums on the R&B and Pop charts between 1969 and '80 - not a week went by in the early '70s without two Isaac Hayes albums on the charts, and sometimes three. There can be no overstating his impact on popular music, reflected in his first ballot vote into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
A pair of albums in 1970 reprised the format of the tightly-arranged extended versions of original material and reworked standards - The Isaac Hayes Movement (7 weeks at #1, with "I Stand Accused") and ...To Be Continued (11 weeks at #1, with the original version of "Ike's Rap," a decade before Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight"!) By now, the silky smooth romantic rap soliloquies had become a Hayes trademark.
The arrival of the Shaft movie, soundtrack double-LP, and theme-song single in the summer 1971 was a career-defining event - the image of Isaac Hayes loomed at least as large as the film's star Richard Roundtree or director Gordon Parks, and all three embodied a new era of Black empowerment. Shaft was the first album in history by a solo black artist to hit #1 on both the Pop and R&B chart (14 weeks, making it the #3 R&B album of the entire decade of the '70s). At the Academy Awards the following year, Hayes became the first African-American composer to win the Oscar for Best Musical Score. In addition to generating three Grammy Awards, the music from Shaft won a Golden Globe Award, the NAACP Image Award, and the prestigious Edison Award, Europe's highest music honor.
Again, Hayes had set a high musical standard whose gritty, staccato voicings would echo in movie and television soundtracks for decades to come. He was quickly assigned to score the 1972 television series "The Men" (starring Robert Conrad), whose theme became a Pop/R&B hit. The summer 1974 would see the release of his next two movie soundtrack albums, Tough Guys (from the movie Three Tough Guys, Hayes' first co-starring movie role as a macho character), and Truck Turner (in which Hayes starred in the title role of a tough guy again). A third film role offered a comedy turn in 1975, It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time (with John Candy).
Meanwhile, Shaft's success (it charted for 16 months) earned Hayes a second double-LP in 1971: Black Moses (#1 for 7 weeks, with "Never Can Say Goodbye"), whose nickname reluctantly stuck with him for years afterward. A long spell of touring throughout Europe and the U.S. in 1972 (including the WattStax Festival in August) introduced many audiences to Hayes for the first time, an imposing figure in his shades and gold chains. It was Isaac Hayes who turned chains - once symbols of slavery and degradation - into ornaments, a decade before Mr. T. and decades before the arrival of bling-bling. The live show was captured on his third consecutive double-LP, which arrived in '73: Live At the Sahara Tahoe (#1 for 2 weeks).
Later that year came the album Joy; aside from its title tune, an R&B/Pop crossover hit, it included "I Love You That's All," which became a sampler's delight for everyone from TLC and Massive Attack, to Eric B. & Rakim and Big Daddy Kane. In the last decade or so, Hayes' work has gone on to be sampled nearly 200 times (officially, that is), on recordings by (among others) Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, DJ Quik, Ice Cube, Destiny's Child, Tricky, Mase. Portishead, Yo-To, and the late TuPac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.
A New Era
By the time his two 1974 soundtracks LPs (Tough Guys and Truck Turner) were issued by Stax/Enterprise, relations with the label and business disagreements had deteriorated to the point where Hayes severed his ties. That same year, he made his TV debut in a recurring role on "The Rockford Files" as Gandolph Fitch, aka Rockfish. In 1975, Hayes launched his own new record label: HBS, or Hot Buttered Soul (via ABC Records). His first new album, Chocolate Chip (#1 for 7 weeks, with its title track R&B hit), showed him adapting to the disco era, but with his musical identity intact.
Hayes followed up with three new HBS albums in 1976, all top 20 R&B chart entries: Disco Connection (an instrumental LP showcasing the Isaac Hayes Movement), Groove-A-Thon (introducing his female backup singers, Hot Buttered Soul Unlimited), and Juicy Fruit (Disco Freak). His tour with Dionne Warwick was chronicled in early '77 on the final HBS release, the live double-LP A Man And a Woman, recorded at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. (Hayes and Warwick backed it up with an appearance together on "The Rockford Files.") Business setbacks had taken their toll, however, and Hayes was forced to file for bankruptcy. It would be decades before he would see his solid gold Cadillac Eldorado again (a relic of the Stax prosperity), liquidated by the IRS in 1977, but finally found and restored for display in 2003 at the Soulsville Museum.
He emerged at the end of 1977 with a new record deal (Polydor), a new home base (Atlanta and its Master Sound Studios), and a new album, New Horizon. The next LP, 1978's For the Sake Of Love, brought a strong return to the charts with "Zeke The Freak." This followed through on the top 10 album Don't Let Go, whose title single was his first major R&B/Pop crossover hit in five years. His final album of the '70s was Royal Rappin's, the unforgettable collaboration with Millie Jackson that spun off the single, "Do You Wanna Make Love."
In addition to releasing new albums in 1980 and '81, And Once Again and A Lifetime Thing, respectively, Hayes produced albums at this time for Linda Clifford (I'm Yours), Donald Byrd, and the Masqueraders. After his 1981 film role as the bad guy in John Carpenter's Escape From New York, Hayes took a well-earned five year break to spend more time with his family. During this period, he began to turn more and more to acting, starting with roles on tv's "The A-Team" (1985), "Hunter" (1986), and "Miami Vice" (1987), then a made-for-TV movie, Jailbait: Betrayed By Innocence, and another pair of tough guy features films, Counterforce and Dead Aim (1987).
Since then, not a year has gone without Isaac Hayes undertaking a movie role or two. The three dozen or so feature films that he has done since 1990 would include Fire, Ice & Dynamite (with Roger Moore), Guilty As Charged (with Rod Steiger, 1991), Final Judgment (Brad Dourif, 1992), Posse (Mario Van Peebles, 1993), Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1993), It Could Happen To You (Nicolas Cage, 1994), Once Upon a Time... When we Were Colored (Richard Roundtree, 1995), Flipper (Paul Hogan, 1996), Six Ways To Sunday (Debbie Harry, 1997), Ninth Street (Martin Sheen, 1999, for which Hayes also scored the soundtrack), Reindeer Games (Ben Affleck, 2000), Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson, 2000), A Man Called Rage (Lance Henriksen, 2002), and the brand new made-for-tv movie Book Of Days (with Wil Wheaton).
At the same time, there have also been roles on a number of tv series, including "Tales From the Crypt," "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air," "Sliders," "The Hughleys," "The Education of Max Bickford," "Fastlane," and as recently as May 2003, back-to-back appearances on UPN's "Girlfriends" starring Diana's daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross.
Meanwhile, in 1988, Hayes was part of an all-star cast in the Keenan Ivory Wayans comedy, I'm Gonna 'Git You, Sucka. By satirizing the very movies that Shaft had inspired over the past decade and a half, it turned those movies into classics and gave the genre a festival marquee name: Blaxploitation films. Directors such as Robert Townshend, Spike Lee, the Hughes Brothers, and John Singleton would lead a new generation of Black filmmakers who would acknowledge their debt to Shaft and the movies they grew up watching as teenagers in the '70s.
On the music side, Hayes had returned to the forefront in late 1986 with a new record deal (Columbia) and a new album, U-Turn, which boasted his first top 10 R&B single in some 13 years, an update of "Ike's Rap." The rap's strong anti-crack message resonated to the extent that its lyric, "Don't be a resident of crack city" was adopted as the slogan of a rehab center in Detroit. By the time his second Columbia album showed up in 1988, Love Attack, the crack epidemic had become so pervasive that Hayes agreed to become a lecturer at colleges and prisons, inspiring students and inmates to fulfill their lives' potentials without drugs.
Hayes' role as a humanitarian began to take sharper focus in late 1991, when he and Barry White traveled to the Ivory Coast in Africa to shoot a video for "Dark & Lovely (you over there)," the single from White's comeback album Put Me In Your Mix. The following year, Hayes and Dionne Warwick accepted an invitation by the Cultural Minister of Ghana (Ivory Coast's eastern neighbor) to visit the Cape Coast and Elmina slave castles. Walking through the dungeons, listening to the horrifying stories told by the guide, Hayes was overwhelmed with emotion.
"It was almost like I heard the voices of my ancestors saying, 'We've come back home through you. The circle is complete. Now, you know what you must do'," he later told a journalist. When the weeping was done, Hayes realized it was not enough to help finance the renovation of the castles, there was bigger work to be done in Africa: He asked how much it would cost to build a school. Returning to America, Hayes took his energy on the road, speaking to African-American community groups and Black expos around the country. He encouraged everyone he met to visit Africa if they could, to interact with the people, or at the very least to support economic development.
One speaking engagement in Queens, New York, was attended by princess Naa Asie Ocansey of Ghana, who phoned a week later. "Mr. Hayes," she asked, "would you like to be a king?" She had told her father, Nene Kubi III, a 'king-maker,' of Hayes' commitment and he said, "We need to honor this man." The coronation rituals that usually took up to two weeks were condensed to two days in late December 1992. The spectacle was attended by Public Enemy who did concerts with Hayes at Cape Coast Castle and in Accra, Ghana's capital city.
Hayes was given a royal name: Nene Katey Ocansey I. "Nene means king in the Ga Dialect," he explains. "Katey means brave warrior who can calm the wild beast in the elements. Ocansey is a family name, the most powerful of the ten clans in my region, Ada, which means I do as I say!" He was appointed King For Development over the region and given land on which to build a palace. But the palace would wait: "You need education over here," he told them, "you need literacy."
Literacy. There is little to match Hayes' devotion to spreading the message that literacy and education are the keys to freedom and prosperity in this world. In 1993, he stumbled into Scientology and the study technology process it teaches. That same year he was named the international spokesman for Applied Scholastics' World Literacy Crusade, which currently has over 20 literacy programs in five countries with more than 1,800 people participating.
Soon after, he started The Isaac Hayes Foundation (IHF, based on Wall Street), whose mission is to enable people around the world to become whole by promoting literacy, music education, nutritional education, and innovative programs that raise self-esteem among the underprivileged and teach young people how to study.
In 1995, newly signed to Virgin Records (via its Pointblank label), Hayes took a typically bold step by simultaneously issuing two new CDs: Raw And Refined, by the Isaac Hayes Movement, was a set of newly recorded and old instrumental tracks, some dating back a quarter-century to the Stax era; while Branded was a lavishly arranged set of newly recorded tracks, including one with David Porter. Among the highlights were the 7-minute take on the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer In the City," and the Watoto de Afrika children's choir singing on the 6-minute version of Sting's "Fragile." Hayes finished out the year speaking at the historic Million Man March on Washington.
For 1998's Blue Brothers 2000 movie soundtrack, Hayes joined an all-star group dubbed the Louisiana Gator Boys, including B.B. King, Gary U.S. Bonds, Eric Clapton, Bo Diddley, Dr. John, Billy Preston, Lou Rawls, Koko Taylor, Jimmie Vaughan, Steve Winwood, Grover Washington, Jr., and about a dozen others - for jams on Bobby Blue Bland's "Turn On Your Love Light" and Bonds' "New Orleans."
True to his promise, and thanks to the hard work of the IHF, Hayes was able to return to Ghana in the summer 1998 and officiate at the groundbreaking ceremony for the school, as part of the Asafotufiami Cultural festival in Ada. The 8,000 square foot facility, called NekoTech, enjoyed its ribbon-cutting two years later. Today, it not only delivers literacy, education, computer technology and Internet access, and health education, but also houses a chapter of the World Literacy Crusade. Johnson & Johnson, a major donor, also shipped 400 bicycles over, which are used for races around the school to promote HIV awareness to children and adults.
"In Africa they got all the raw materials," Hayes says, "the richest resources in the world, but they are not being developed like they should be. If those countries get educated, they can develop manufacturing and production just like the Pacific Rim countries, and gain prosperity from that. Ghana is a democratic country and where you find democracy, you find very little, if any, terrorism. I want to be part of that movement toward democracy."
His concern with literacy at home is well known. In November 1998, he took part in groundbreaking ceremonies for the $60 million Central Library in Memphis. He and Lisa Marie Presley, a lifelong friend and fellow Scientologist, established a mission for the organization in their hometown of Memphis. The mission now houses a LEAP center (Learning Education Ability Program), "for kids after school to learn how to study, to learn how to read and write." The IHF continues to partner with other nonprofit organizations to support global causes that serve community needs, actively promoting celebrity benefit concerts (like the Jam For Literacy at the House Of Blues in Los Angeles), 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.
"We have the knowledge, technology, research, resources, and experience," he urges. "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." Father of 11 children, ages 16 to 42, and grandfather of 16 - his ideas about what's best for our children are worth their weight in gold.
From the lessons he learned at his grandmother's side, to the wisdom that only a true king possesses, Isaac Hayes has earned his position as one of the most influential - and productive - figures in African-American culture today. His instincts as an astute businessman and unstinting philanthropist are tempered by the soul of an artist - an accomplished musician and published author, in-demand actor on-air radio personality, and one b-a-a-a-d cook in the kitchen.
Above all, he is a man of action and determination. He knows that, while it is important to have others who believe in you and can help you towards your goals, ultimately it is all up to what the individual himself or herself brings to the table. "At the end of the day," he told one journalist, "we are responsible for our own lives. If anything happens to us, don't blame somebody else. Backtrack and look at what you did to contribute to that. You also contribute to your successes. Once you learn that, you're on your way."