Lee Hays

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Lee Hays (March 14, 1914 – August 26, 1981), was an American folk-singer and songwriter, best known for singing bass with The Weavers. Throughout his life, he was concerned with overcoming racism, inequality, and violence in society. Hays wrote or co-wrote "Wasn't That a Time?", "If I Had a Hammer, "and "Kisses Sweeter than Wine", which became Weavers' staples. He also familiarized audiences with songs of the 1930s labor movement, such as "We Shall Not be Moved".

Childhood

Lee Hays came naturally by his interest in folk music since his uncle was the eminent Missouri and Arkansas folklorist Vance Randolph, author of the bestselling Pissing in the Snow and Other Ozark Folktales and Who Blewed Up the Church House?, among other works. Hays' social conscience was ignited when at age five he witnessed public lynchings of African-Americans.

He was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the youngest of the four children of William Benjamin Hays, a Methodist minister, and Ellen Reinhardt Hays, who before her marriage had been a court stenographer. William Hays's vocation of ministering to rural areas took him from parish to parish, so as a child, Lee lived in several towns in Arkansas and Georgia. He learned to sing sacred harp music in his father's church. Both his parents valued learning and books. Mrs. Hays taught her four children to type before they began learning penmanship in school and all were excellent students....
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