Friends and family paid tribute to late soul singer Isaac Hayes Monday. The memorial service filled with musical performances, photos and videos clips also featured speeches from Reverend Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Anne Archer. Shaft star Richard Roundtree, Chuck D, Bootsy Collins, Doug E. Fresh, Kelly Preston, Anne Archer and the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were among the 3,000 mourners at Monday's public memorial in Memphis. "He was a lovely man, always involved with causes," said Jackson before the service. "Literacy, civil rights. He was always there, and that's why we're all here for him." During the four-hour service, which included video and music, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen said that the city should celebrate Hayes as it does Elvis Presley, even floating the idea of naming the local airport after the seminal soul singer. "He is a person who the world will miss," Cohen said. Hayes was found dead in his Memphis-area home of an apparent stroke on Aug. 10. He was 65. Also speaking at the commemoration at the Hope Presbyterian Church was James Alexander, a member of the R&B band the Bar-Kays, who was one of Hayes' closest friends and the bass player on Hayes' Academy Award-winning theme song from Shaft. Alexander described Hayes' humble upbringing, raised by his poor grandparents in Covington, Tenn., and how he learned to play the piano and saxophone by ear. Other speakers praised Hayes for his humanitarian work, including the Isaac Hayes Foundation established in 1999, his support of Bono's One campaign and his construction of a school in Ghana. Also in attendance was Hayes' songwriting partner David Porter. Together, the two helped define Stax Records and pioneer the Memphis Sound. The farewell wasn't without controversy, however. The pastor at Hope Presbyterian received threats from anti-Scientologists for allowing the services to take place, and picketers stood outside the church. Hayes was an outspoken Scientologist and many high-profile practitioners, including Cruise, Preston and Archer, were on hand to remember him during the past two days. In the end, though, nothing could obscure the celebration of the man. Said Jackson: "Thank God for Isaac living 65 years and making a difference in our lives."
The 50th anniversary of Stax Records along with the label's re-activation-in-full will be celebrated at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference with a live reunion of some of Stax's biggest stars. Booker T & the MGs (featuring Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn), William Bell, Eddie Floyd and surprise guests will unite for a 90-minute set scheduled to take place Thursday, March 15, 7:30pm -9:007:30 - 9 p.m., at Austin's legendary Anton'es nightclub, 213 W. 5th St. in Austin. Admission will be open to all SXSW badge and wristband holders. The show will also celebrate the March 13 release of Stax 50, a deluxe edition 50-song, 2-CD box set titled Stax 50: A 50th Anniversary Celebration. The most comprehensive Stax hits collection ever, featuring for the first time all major Stax hit singles, Stax 50 will formally inaugurate Concord Music's re-launch of the legendary soul label. The set is packaged in a hardcover box with lenticular cover art of the famous snapping finger logo. The collection features Stax stalwarts, Otis Redding, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Sam & Dave , The Dramatics, Little Milton, The Mar- Keys, Mel & Tim, Jean Knight, and The Emotions. Concord Music Group recently announced a year of activity that will include deluxe reissues of classic albums and rarities, a live Stax summit in Memphis in June, and a PBS documentary set to this summer. In addition, Concord Music Group is reactivating Stax this year as a forward looking contemporary soul label carrying on the famed labels' tradition, heritage and legacy. The first new Stax signings are Isaac Hayes, Angie Stone, Soulive and Leon Ware among others. Stax Records holds a critical place in American music history as one of the most popular soul music record labels of all time ? second only to Motown in sales and influence, but first in gritty, raw, Southern-steeped sounds. Stax placed more than 167 hit songs in Billboard's Hot 100 pop charts as well as a staggering 243 hits on the R&B charts. In addition to the "core" artists who appear on Stax 50, the label was also home to recordings by Albert King, Big Star, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Moms Mabley and even the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Concord Music Group, which acquired the legendary Memphis label as part of its purchase of Fantasy Records in 2004, will also honor Stax's 50th year by releasing definitive collections, rare performances, unreleased tracks and more from the Memphis R&B imprint in deluxe new packages. Plans for digital releases, remixes and other projects are also in the works; the anniversary year's releases are slated to include more than 20 CDs and DVDs. Today at the original site of Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee is the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and Stax Music Academy. The only soul music museum in the world, the Stax Museum is a 17,000- square-foot facility with more than 2,000 exhibits, videos, films, photographs, musical instruments, stage costumes, automobiles, and other artifacts that tell the fascinating story of Stax Records as well as other soul music labels. Concord Music Group's new releases on Stax Records may be purchased in the museum's Satellite Record and Gift Shop. The adjacent Stax Music Academy is a unique learning city where Stax Records is being carried into the future by mentoring primarily at-risk urban youth through music education.
Over the weekend the entertainment industry was hit hard by the sudden loss of two great entertainers, comedian Bernie Mac and legendary entertainer Isaac Hayes. Dionne Warwick, George Clooney, Chris Rock and the African American Film Critics association are among those who have issued statements regarding the shocking loss of the extraordinary entertainers. "I've lost one of my best buddies and it is not easy to reckon with" says Dionne Warwick who via ET issued a statement regarding the loss of Isaac Hayes, who she worked with on many occasions. "He was 'family' ... he will be a part of my musical life each time I sing the song 'Deja Vu' as this was a birthday gift to me from him. His renditions of songs that I had recorded, especially, 'Walk On By,' in my opinion, 'the definitive version' will always be another memory each time I sing it, and the humorous side that he showed few (that I knew so well)." Warwick's sentiments echo those of the African American Film Critics Association that honored both Bernie Mac who died on Saturday and Hayes who passed on Sunday. "Bernie Mac had the ability to effortlessly make people laugh," says AAFCA member Wilson Morales. "He was an incredible talent with whom my colleagues and I in AAFCA always looked forward to covering. Bernie had a big heart and he will certainly be missed by the members of our organization." "The loss of Isaac Hayes less than 24-hours after Bernie Mac represents a major double blow to the entire entertainment industry, black Hollywood in particular," says AAFCA President Gil Robertson IV. "The art form and expressions created by Isaac Hayes in particular resonated not only in American pop culture but throughout American life. Both are talents that will be missed but always remembered." In addition to the AAFCA, stars such as Niecy Nash, who portrayed Mac's sister on the hit Fox series "The Bernie Mac Show," funnyman Dane Cook, Brad Pitt and George Clooney, who starred with Mac in Ocean's Eleven, Ice Cube and Chris Rock each paid tribute to Mac over the weekend. Rock, who starred with Mac in "Head of State" told E! that Mac was "one of the best and funniest comedians to ever live, but that was the second-best thing he did. Bernie was one of the greatest friends a person could have. Losing him is like losing 12 people, because he absolutely filled up any room he was in. I'm gonna miss the Mac Man."
R&B soul crooner Isaac Hayes, who laid the groundwork for disco and whose "Theme From Shaft" won both Academy and Grammy awards, died this afternoon after he collapsed near a treadmill, authorities said. Hayes, 65, was pronounced dead at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis soon after he was found by his wife, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office said. The cause of death was not immediately known. Hayes was one of the main creative forces behind southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served as both an in-house songwriter and producer. In the late 1960s, Hayes became a recording artist, and recorded successful soul albums such as Hot Buttered Soul (1969) and Black Moses (1971) as the Stax label's premier artist. His career hit another high in 1997 when he became the voice of Chef, the sensible school cook and devoted ladies man on the animated TV show "South Park." He will be missed
Isaac Hayes has being treated at a Memphis hospital Tuesday for exhaustion, his longtime songwriting partner said. "He's just overworked and had been in Atlantic City performing, the D.C. area performing, and in Tunica (Miss.) a couple of nights ago. He was just overworked," David Porter told The Commercial Appeal newspaper. "He's doing much better," Porter added. Hayes, 63, is best known for his 1971 No. 1 hit "Theme From Shaft," from the Richard Roundtree film. The soundtrack won the Oscar for best musical score. More recently, he was the voice of the character Chef on the TV show "South Park." During his time as a backup artist at Stax Records in Memphis, he established a songwriting partnership with Porter, and in the 1960s they wrote such hits for Sam and Dave as "Hold On, I'm Coming" and "Soul Man."