The third annual Isaac Hayes Day, during which the artist will be honored by his birthplace, will take place this weekend.

A singer/songwriter, Hayes is best-known for his music and acting careers.


He began performing in local night clubs after graduating from Manassas High School and became a session player for various acts at Stax Records by the early 1960s. He composed a string of hit singles with David Porter, including “Soul Man” and other hits for Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas and others.

Hayes later recorded two very successful albums, “Hot Buttered Soul” and “Black Moses.”

In 1972, he won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for the theme from “Shaft” and the Golden Globe and the Grammy for Best Original Score for the movie of the same name.

He was only the third African-American to win the Academy Award at the time.

Hayes appeared in the the movies “Truck Turner” and “I’m Going to Get You Sucka” as well as television shows like “The Rockford Files” and “The A-Team” and voiced the character Chef from the animated series “South Park” on Comedy Central.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2005.

And he got his start in Covington.

Hayes, who died on Aug. 10, 2008 in Memphis, was born in the Rialto community on Aug. 20, 1942 to Isaac Lee Hayes Sr. and Eula B. Wade Young.

His mother died in 1944 and he was raised by his grandparents, Willie James Wade Sr. and Rushia Addie Mae Taylor.

The family attended Rialto Baptist Church. They moved to Memphis as Isaac began school.

He began performing as a young boy and his legacy as a performer lives on, which is the reason city leaders have chosen to continue to honor him with the third annual event.

As event organizers work diligently to prepare for the event, they look forward to the public attending.

On Friday night, the celebration will begin with a Night of Music.

“We’ve been trying to get Tonya Dyson for two years now,” said former alderman John Edwards, one of the event’s organizers. “Finally we got her up here and one of the things I’ve been looking forward to for the Friday festival is someone who’s walking in Mr. Hayes’ footsteps.”

Dyson, who was born and raised in Covington, went on to Memphis and organizes the Soulsville Festival, Edwards said.

“She actually works in collaboration with the Stax Museum down there. In fact, she has a radio show and that’s what she was discussing today: Isaac Hayes and how many people have sampled him and also the legacy he left.”

Friday’s event will take place from 7-10 p.m. at the Covington Civic Center.

In addition to Dyson’s performance, awards will be given. Edwards is keeping mum about them, however.

Tickets for that event are $10 each and can be purchased through Eventbrite.

Saturday’s festival, however, is free.

It will begin at noon in Frazier Park and will include live music all day, food, a bounce house and more than two dozen vendors.

Edwards encourages everyone to visit for awhile.

“I’m very excited about it because I’m actually doing research as I go and I’m finding more and more information about Mr. Hayes, his popularity and the barriers he broke and the things he actually did to help out those less fortunate.”

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.