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Lee Hays

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Biography

Lee Hays is an American folk singer noted for his role in the Weavers, an American folk, blues and gospel quintet based in New York city. He was born on March 14th, 1914 and died on August 26th, 1981 at the age of 67 as a result of diabetic cardiovascular disease.

Hays’ music is characterised by its concern with social issues such as racism and inequality, and is informed to an extent by his role as a Methodist preacher and his firmly religious beliefs.

Hays is noted for his social activism, particularly his involvement in trade unionism and subsequent collaborations with celebrated folk luminaries such as Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and Pete Seeger. Moreover, he was accused (alongside the rest of the Weavers) of Communist sympathies, an accusation which ultimately spelled the end of the group given the fact that they were no longer allowed to perform live at most venues, nor on television or radio.

In later life Lee Hays appeared as a Reverand alongside Woody’s son, Arlo Guthrie in the film Alice’s Restaurant; co-formed a new group (The Baby Sitters) who wrote and performed children’s songs, and devoted his later life to domesticity. Hays’ death in 1981 followed several Weavers reunion shows, despite the amputation of both his legs as a result of diabetes.

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