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Jacqui Hairston

Jacqui Hairston

In Loving Memory
Jacqui Hairston's Cousin

Jester Hairston
World Wide Ambassador of Spirituals

Known as "THE AMEN MAN," based on the Spiritual, "Amen," which JESTER HAIRSTON popularized, and which Rhythm & Blues great Curtis Mayfield turned into a popular recording, Jester Hairston was devoted to keeping Negro Spirituals alive. Born in 1901, he achieved fame in unlikely areas during his long career. He was awarded four honorary doctorate degrees for his achievements before he died at the age of 98 in 2000.

Hairston was one of the world's foremost preservers of the Spirituals emanating from Black slaves. For a number of years, he was assistant director to Hall Johnson's internationally famous Hall Johnson Choir, a choir dedicated to preserving the original flavor of the slaves' music. Perhaps more than any one else, Hairston trained adult choirs and young children around the world how to sing these wonderful songs of Black people known as Spirituals. Hairston arranged approximately 300 Spirituals, including "Elijah Rock," "Poor Man Lazarus," and "In Dat Great Gittin' Up Morning." Spirituals music historian John Lovell, Jr. said, "It is very likely that Jester Hairston has been the cause of more people singing spirituals in more places than any other single individual."

Multi-talented Jester was a movie ("Tarzan"), television ("That's My Mama"), and radio actor ("Amos and Andy"), and a skillful choral director for Hollywood movie soundtracks. He acted in numerous films, including "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Lady Sings the Blues," "In the Heat of the Night," "The Alamo," and "Road to Zanzibar." In the movie, "Lilies of the Field", it was Jester's voice that was overdubbed for Sidney Poitier's singing of "Amen."

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