Born in Spanish Point Bermuda on June 17th 1916 to Henry and Olivia Hayward, Lancelot Henry Stuart Hayward was a jazz pianist who was blind since infancy due to juvenile glaucoma.
According to his sister Dorie their father tried to get him to the United States for medical treatment but was told “American had it’s own lame and blind and didn’t need ours to”.
Back in the 1920’s, blind people were not expected to be educated, let alone blind black people as it was in the days of legal segregation. They were normally kept at home away from public view and not expected to be normal.
Lance Hayward’s parents refuted these norms of the day and sent him to a neighbor to learn basic arithmetic and spelling. Then at age 13, he was sent to the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts, returning at age 16 having learned to read both books and music in Braille.
Mr. Hayward’s musical career began in local churches, and he became a fixture in the island’s nightclub circuit, despite some establishments having initial reservations about hiring him due to his blindness rendering him unable to read music.
You can view including a rare clip of Mr. Hayward playing the piano here.
A formally trained classical pianist and a self-taught jazz musician, Hayward became one of Bermuda’s successful jazz artists and appeared on television and radio in Canada, Europe, Japan and the USA.
He then moved to New York he appeared at many jazz clubs including West Boondock, Jacques-in-the-Village and the Village Corner, where he appeared regularly for 16 years.
He formed his own chorus, the Lance Hayward Singers, which perform a wide variety of music, from Bach to Duke Ellington as well as containing to sing Hayward’s arrangements.
Lance Hayward lived in the United States until he died in November 9th 1991 at age 75.
1. A Closer Walk
2. Hayward and Hinton
3. Killing Me Softly
You can listen to samples of all the songs on Mr. Hayward’s second album “Hayward and Hinton” here on Amazon.
Lance Hayward is the father of former Member of Parliament and Bermuda Sun columnist Stuart Hayward.