A Star Jazz Pianist of Bermuda
Born in 1916 at Spanish Point
in Bermuda, Lance Hayward went on to become a star as a Jazz Pianist in Bermuda and later in USA. This is despite the two major handicaps that he had - he was born blind and in a society that hardly had patience for the disabled, and he was a black.
As a child he used to copy all that his sister played on the piano. Soon he revealed the gift that he was born with and later his father bought him a piano.
At the age of 13 he went to the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts where he refined his skills. On return he took up music as career that lasted for the next 60 years. Initially he began modestly in the churches. But soon he started performing at the nightclubs and became an accompanist of choice for great musicians like the Carmen McRae and Marvin Gaye.
He soon formed his own band of quartet and performed at various hotels in Bermuda. During the golden era of Bermuda's tourism, his popularity peaked with full houses every night. But in the late 1950s, the situation started to worsen as the economic scenario changed in the island.
Lance Hayward - Pianist & Composer
Hayward found a job in a hotel Half Moon
in Jamaica. He performed at the hotel's bar every night. By that time the composition of his quartet had changed several times and included great musicians like Frankie Roban, Ernest Ranglin and Milton Robinson
It was in this hotel where Hayward's fate changed when Chris Blackwell, a prominent white man in Jamaica walked in one night. He instantly became a fan of Hayward's Jazz piano performance. Blackwell created the brand Island Records and released its debut album Lance Hayward at the Half Moon.
With subsequent success of Island Records with Bob Marley and the Whalers in the 1970's, Blackwell became a pioneer in the music industry and made millions. However, Lance Hayward was not part of this later success and decided to move to New York where he spent rest of his life. He quickly established himself with the jazz fans of New York and performed in several clubs including in Village Corner where he served for 16 years.
While in New York, he also formed his own chorus called Lance Hayward Singers, that continue to perform the choral arrangements even today under the direction of Claudia Marx.
Hayward kept in touch with Bermuda and his mother who lived there, and regularly visited the island during the Cup Match
days. Lance Hayward died in 1991 at the age of 75 following a prolonged illness.
2) Check out Bermuda Music and Dance
to know about music and dances that are now part of the island's cultural tradition.