William Richard Hayes, musician and educator, was born March 7, 1944 in Carbondale, Illinois. His father, also William R. Hayes, worked for the Illinois Central Railroad while his mother, Eurma C. Hayes, was a noted Model Cities leader. Hayes attended Attucks Elementary School and graduated from Carbondale High School in 1962. At Southern Illinois University, he earned a B.M.E. degree in music education in 1967. There, he played bass for the Justin Singers. In 1971, he was awarded his masters of music degree from Western Illinois University.
In 1967, he taught music in Nebraska at Sandhill Public School. Married in 1969, Hayes lived and taught in Bermuda for a year. In 1971, Hayes taught at Pine Forge Academy in Pennsylvania, then at Bethlehem Community College. Teaching elementary school general music, choir, and beginning band as well as middle school band and orchestra, Hayes created curriculum and performance pieces at each level. At Traverse City, Michigan, Hayes founded the Multicultural Education Committee. Hayes worked as director of music programs for the Traverse City Area Public Schools from 1979 to 1993. He also served as conductor of the Cadillac Area Symphony from 1977 to 1993.
Now retired, Hayes founded the Ypsilanti, Michigan Youth Orchestra in 1997. Hayes is a former conductor of the River Raisin Ragtime Review as well as three-term Board of Directors member of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. His teaching style has been called the “Soul Method” an eclectic, but disciplined approach to music. In 2008, The Ann Arbor News named Hayes the 2008 Ypsilanti Heritage Fellow for his commitment to young people in the Ypsilanti area.
A well-known Detroit area jazz bassist, Hayes, a divorced father of three, lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Hayes was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 18, 2005.