CULTURE

Soul icon Isaac Hayes set to play March show in Athens

Not long ago, the soul music legend Isaac Hayes withdrew from a scheduled visit to Greece for shows, citing health problems. But late last week, the 64-year-old artist announced that he will finally make it to the capital for a performance on Saturday, March 3, at the Tae Kwon Do arena in Faliron in southern Athens. Tickets are now available. The seasoned soul musician – who ranks as one of the most influential artists of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as one of the major forefathers of hip-hop – made news last March by quitting his gig as the voice of Jerome «Chef» McElroy, the ladies’ man and school cook on the popular animated American show «South Park.» A new convert to the controversial Scientology religion, he said «South Park,» which satirizes topics as sensitive as Jesus Christ and Judaism, had crossed a line in making fun of Scientology. «There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins,» said Hayes after leaving the show. «As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices.» Hayes is also a looming personality in American popular culture. Well-known for his sensual music, which portrays him as one of contemporary music’s great lovers, he recently fathered his fourth child and unreservedly calls himself a Sugar Daddy. The soul master had built a considerable track record in music years before releasing his debut album back in 1967. The loose, jazz-flavored «Presenting Isaac Hayes» was preceded by session work as a musician, which such greats as Otis Redding and regular gigs with the house band at Stax Records, the landmark soul-oriented label Hayes was associated with for years. The work at Stax – as a musician before the debut album – led to a prolific and hugely successful songwriting partnership with David Porter. Working as the Soul Children, the duo penned some 200 songs together to provide big hits for Stax luminaries such as Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas and Johnnie Taylor. Then came the beginning of a solo career that predated the disco and rap eras. Hayes was hugely successful in the late 1960s and most of the 1970s. By the late 1970s, the star’s appeal had slightly faded, leading to a temporary retirement from music after Hayes’s 1981 album «Lifetime Thing.» The hiatus lasted five years. His return to music was brief and the revered legend focused on acting. These days, his legacy is multi-dimensional, a mix of his signature music and his powerful cult of personality. The success of his association with the «South Park» series, originally intended as a one-off stint, cemented Hayes’s status as a cultural icon.