WINSLOW, Ariz. — The Navajo-Hopi Observer had the opportunity to talk with Winslow’s Hays sisters, Mary and Brenda, about their life and music.
The sisters have perfect pitch and harmony. They were raised and have lived in Winslow for 62 years. They enjoy living here and are an integral part of the town fabric.
Do you sing other things besides gospel music?
We have in the past. We’ve sung at weddings, retirement parties. If we receive a request for something other than a gospel song, we will do it.
When did you parents come to Winslow and how did you learn to sing?
Our parents came here in 1956. And our father taught us about music and singing. Before we were born, he was a member of a quartet in Mississippi singing gospel with B.B. King. B. B. King left the quartet to concentrate on blues music and our dad kept on with traditional gospel music. Regarding learning singing; we grew up in the church and practiced a lot, but we consider ourselves to have been given a gift for singing. We did listen to my dad’s singing a great deal, which also was a great influence on us.
Do you sing outside of Winslow?
Of course, we have traveled all over. We never ask for payment, but if payment is offered, we accept it. God has given us a gift, so we share it with the world. In 2007, we went to Washington DC for the opening of the remodeled Smithsonian Institute. Tina Mion (local Winslow Artist) had a painting of us accepted and displayed at the Smithsonian remodel re-opening, where we sang at the event under our portrait. That painting also went on display in China for a while. Later Mion sold the painting to museum in St. Louis where it is today.