The Hidden Brookline Committee honored the late musician Roland Hayes with a plaque dedication at Hayes’ former Brookline residence at 58 Allerton Street on June 12. The Hidden Brookline Committee was established in 2006 to bring to light hidden histories of slavery and freedom in Brookline.
Hayes, once known as the “Black Caruso,” went on to become one of the world’s most important and celebrated concert performers of the twentieth century. Hayes performed at a sold-out concert with the Boston Symphony, making him the first African American to perform with a major symphony orchestra. Hayes was also a pioneer who paved the way for other African Americans. He transcended cultural, geographical and musical boundaries.
Hayes was a Brookline resident for 50 years at a time when, as former Massachusetts Governor and Brookline resident Michael Dukakis pointed out at Sunday’s celebration, African Americans were not always welcomed to live communities like Brookline.
The event drew a large and appreciative crowd in the hundreds. The event featured speakers Rev. Liz Walker, Brookline Selectmen Chair Neil Wishinsky, Virginia Commonwealth University anthropology professor Christopher Brooks, Michael and Kitty Dukakis, Event Chair’s Barbara Brown and Rob Daves, Haye’s daughter Afrika Hayes Lamb and Tanglewood Festival Chorus Manager Erik Johnson. The afternoon also featured performances by Voices Boston, Hayes’ grandson Wenceslas Ostasenko and former Warner-Reprise artist Donna McElroy.
If you missed the event, here is video of the whole ceremony. It was produced for the
Town of Brookline by ADW Video Productions.