1. Books

What's Elaine M. Hayes reading?

What 's on Elaine M. Hayes' nightstand?
Published Nov. 15, 2017


Elaine M. Hayes

Hayes, the author of Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan, said she was a college student when Vaughan's voice first captivated her. "My roommate played a lot of her in our daily life. I remember thinking that she had a phenomenal voice, the way she swooped from bottom of range to the top. She had an amazing sense of harmonic sense, and I was so impressed with how she could improvise,'' said Hayes, 44. "I often say Sarah Vaughan was my crossover moment, my gateway into jazz."

We recently caught up with Hayes, a music historian and author who holds a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, by phone from her home in Seattle.

What's on your nightstand?

I have three different categories. The first are books that are work related, as I am looking for my next project and studying the intellectual thoughts of black women from the 20th century. They had so many challenges. I'm reading Beyond Respectability by Brittney C. Cooper.

Can you tell me about this one?

She goes back and finds stories and ideas and words of important women who contributed to black intellectual history from the late 1800s all the way through the civil rights era. She looks for them in unusual ways. They were not always the same part of formal institutions as the men were. I'm also reading Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray. Pauli Murray is an overlooked figure. It's fascinating.

Then the second category is what I read to relax and wind down. I happen to love mysteries, so I'm reading Louise Penny. She writes the books for the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. She creates a quirky artistic community. Inspector Gamache is sensitive, well read, a Renaissance kind of man. It's fun to read. The third category is for my son. I have a 5-year-old. He and I do a lot of reading together. His current favorite is Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown. It's about a character named Jasper and how he has glow-in-the-dark underwear.

Regarding Queen of Bepop, you include Vaughan's life and career, the racial strife she endured as well as sexism and even violence toward female singers. Do you have a favorite piece of the book?

For me all those parts are really indispensable for the whole. The sexism and racism work together, and it's a big part of what shaped her career. An important part is how women like her confronted all those things and kept going. They didn't allow those things to get them down. So, I don't have a favorite part, but I can tell you that it was difficult for me writing about domestic violence and abuse.

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