1927 Roland Hayes Inscribed and Autographed Portrait Photograph: Celebrated African-American Lyric Tenor to his Manager, William H. Brennan.
A striking photograph of this lyric tenor and concert soloist
Signed one month after his fortieth birthday, this attractive portrait photograph of the pioneering African-American lyric tenor, Roland Hayes, is boldly inscribed to Hayes’ first professional manager, William H. Brennan.
The importance of the association is evident in the one word inscription, “Gratitude !!”
The full presentation reads:“To Mr. & Mrs. William H. Brennan Gratitude !! from Roland Hayes 8.2.27”
The photograph shows a still youthful-looking Hayes near the beginning of his successful singing career. Roland Hayes (1887–1977) sang with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and traveled with them to Boston. Hayes stayed on in Boston and in 1920 asked William H. Brennan, manager of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for professional management.
In a September 1962 article in Ebony magazine, Hayes described what happened next:
Brennan demurred. “It will never happen here,” Brennan told Hayes. “I don’t agree with it but it is an American tradition.” Hayes is proud that he proved Brennan wrong. “I believed there was a future in this country for a Negro concert artist and I proved it.”
After this initial rebuff, Hayes traveled to Europe and in 1921 gave a successful private royal command performance at Buckingham Palace.
For the next 15 years, Brennan managed Hayes’ career and booked him as a soloist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and on lucrative American concert tours.
Hayes’ legacy as a concert-hall and lieder singer and his efforts to break racial boundaries are nicely bound up in this early 1927 inscribed photograph with its important association.
Description: 1927 Roland Hayes Inscribed and Autographed Portrait Photograph: Celebrated African-American Lyric Tenor to his Manager, William H. Brennan.
Luzern [Switzerland], 1927. Silver print photograph, approximately 9 x 7 inches, housed in a contemporary swivel-mounted, wooden, gilt decorated frame and stand with a felt bottom. Some minor wear to gilt on top of frame and along right side. Boldly signed and darkly engrossed by Roland Hayes across the bottom and dated “8.2.27.” Signed in pencil by the Swiss photographer.