Hayes' hometown remembers music icon fondly - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Justin Hanson

Hayes' hometown remembers music icon fondly

Isaac Hayes grew up about 45 miles north of Memphis in the small town of Rialto, just north of Covington in Tipton County. Monday, residents there said he never forgot where he came from, and that's what made him so special.

Photos taken in 2004 show Hayes back in his hometown when residents dedicated a sign in his honor - a sign fitting for a man who never forgot his humble beginnings in a tin shack in Tipton County.  And even though the house isn't standing anymore, Hayes' memory lives in the minds of residents there.

"Looks like I can hear his voice was heavy. Looks like to me I can just hear him right now," said Cora Williams, a friend of Isaac Hayes, as she looked at the photo Monday.

Williams once was the baby sitter for a young Hayes.  Even at an early age, she said, Hayes would stand on her front porch and belt out gospel tunes in his special delivery.

"When he'd sing that, he'd look around at me and smile and I'd smile back at him," she said.

Many in the Rialto community remember Hayes as a very young boy who sung often at Stevens Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. Even though the church is gone, and the building is now a home, many in the community remember him having distinctive voice at an early age.

"He followed the adults around to the various houses where they would gather to sing spirituals and gospel music," said Hayes' friend, Hattye Yarbrough.

Yarbrough first met Hayes when he visited Covington in 1976.  Despite his worldwide fame, she said, Hayes never forgot her name.

"Always when I saw him, there was always a big smile, and he would give me a big hug and say, 'My favorite Tipton County friend.'"

It wasn't uncommon to see Hayes driving around his birthplace, she said, a way for him to reconnect and re-energize his creative batteries.

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