Jo Hale/Getty Images
by Josh Grossberg | Mon., Aug. 18, 2008 2:53 PM
Jo Hale/Getty Images
Isaac Hayes got an all-star send-off fit for the Black Moses.
Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes were among those attending Sunday's private burial service for the Oscar- and Grammy-winning music legend, while Shaft star Richard Roundtree, Chuck D, Bootsy Collins, Doug E. Fresh, Kelly Preston, Anne Archer and the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were among the 3,000 mourners for today's public memorial in Memphis.
"He was a lovely man, always involved with causes," said Jackson before the service. "Literacy, civil rights. He was always there, and that's why we're all here for him."
During the four-hour service, which included video and music, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen said that the city should celebrate Hayes as it does Elvis Presley, even floating the idea of naming the local airport after the seminal soul singer.
"He is a person who the world will miss," Cohen said.
Also speaking at the commemoration at the Hope Presybyterian Church was James Alexander, a member of the R&B band the Bar-Kays, who was one of Hayes' closest friends and the bass player on Hayes' Academy Award-winning theme song from Shaft.
Alexander described Hayes' humble upbringing, raised by his poor grandparents in Covington, Tenn., and how he learned to play the piano and saxophone by ear.
Other speakers praised Hayes for his humanitarian work, including the Isaac Hayes Foundation established in 1999, his support of Bono's One campaign and his construction of a school in Ghana.
Also in attendance was Hayes' songwriting partner David Porter. Together, the two helped define Stax Records and pioneer the Memphis Sound.
The farewell wasn't without controversy, however. The pastor at Hope Presbyterian received threats from anti-Scientologists for allowing the services to take place, and picketers stood outside the church. Hayes was an outspoken Scientologist and many high-profile practitioners, including Cruise, Preston and Archer, were on hand to remember him during the past two days.
In the end, though, nothing could obscure the celebration of the man.
Said Jackson: "Thank God for Isaac living 65 years and making a difference in our lives."