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The Sound of Double Consciousness: A Case Study of the Life of Roland Hayes

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Abstract:

It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One feels his twoness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
—W.E.B. Du Bois


Using the lens of double consciousness seems the best way to understand Roland Hayes, a great tenor who made his breakthrough in 1917. Driven by his “Negro” soul, Hayes helped open the stage to black American artists; he brought spirituals to the American stage, and, fairly early in his career, recognized and celebrated the blackness he found in his voice. At the same time, Hayes felt pressure to conform to the standards of white America. Indeed, this mindset reverberated through his music, especially early in his career, as Hayes tried to pattern his singing after European masters. At the same time, on some level, Hayes was aware of the great importance of the culture of the black community. African American music and dance formed some of his earliest memories and shaped his childhood identity. Not until much later, however, would he come to understand the complex contributions of Africa to his own cultural background. My conference presentation will focus on Hayes’s struggle with “warring ideals” and his attempts to reconcile himself to his African cultural heritage.

Author's Keywords:

Roland Hayes, double consciousness, African cultural heritage, African American music
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Association:
Name: Association for the Study of African American Life and History
URL:
http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p35535_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Hildebrand, Jennifer. "The Sound of Double Consciousness: A Case Study of the Life of Roland Hayes" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Hyatt Regency, Buffalo, New York USA, <Not Available>. 2013-12-17 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p35535_index.html>

APA Citation:

Hildebrand, J. "The Sound of Double Consciousness: A Case Study of the Life of Roland Hayes" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Hyatt Regency, Buffalo, New York USA <Not Available>. 2013-12-17 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p35535_index.html

Publication Type: Individual Paper
Abstract: It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One feels his twoness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
—W.E.B. Du Bois


Using the lens of double consciousness seems the best way to understand Roland Hayes, a great tenor who made his breakthrough in 1917. Driven by his “Negro” soul, Hayes helped open the stage to black American artists; he brought spirituals to the American stage, and, fairly early in his career, recognized and celebrated the blackness he found in his voice. At the same time, Hayes felt pressure to conform to the standards of white America. Indeed, this mindset reverberated through his music, especially early in his career, as Hayes tried to pattern his singing after European masters. At the same time, on some level, Hayes was aware of the great importance of the culture of the black community. African American music and dance formed some of his earliest memories and shaped his childhood identity. Not until much later, however, would he come to understand the complex contributions of Africa to his own cultural background. My conference presentation will focus on Hayes’s struggle with “warring ideals” and his attempts to reconcile himself to his African cultural heritage.

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