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Isaac Lee Hayes Jr. (August 20, 1942 – August 10, 2008) was an American singer, songwriter, actor, composer and producer. He was one of the creative forces behind the Southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served both as an in-house songwriter and as a session musician and record producer, teaming with his partner David Porter during the mid-1960s. Hayes and Porter were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of writing scores of songs for themselves, the duo Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, and others. In 2002, Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Hayes was known for his musical score for the film Shaft (1971). For the “Theme from Shaft”, he was awarded the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1972. This made him the third black person, after Hattie McDaniel and Sidney Poitier, to win an Academy Award in any competitive field covered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Hayes also won two Grammy Awards for that same year. Later, he was given his third Grammy for his music album Black Moses.
In 1992, Hayes was crowned honorary king of the Ada region of Ghana in recognition of his humanitarian work there.He acted in motion pictures and television, such as in the movies Truck Turner and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, and as Gandolf “Gandy” Fitch in the TV series The Rockford Files (1974–1980). He voiced the character Chef from the animated Comedy Central series South Park from its debut in 1997 until 2006. His influences were Percy Mayfield, Big Joe Turner, James Brown, Jerry Butler, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and psychedelic soul groups like The Chambers Brothers and Sly and the Family Stone.