Isaac Hayes is an American soul and funk singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, arranger, composer and actor.
Hayes was one of the main creative forces behind southern soul music label Stax Records, for which he served as both an in-house songwriter/producer with partner David Porter durign the mid-1960s.
In the late 1960s, Hayes became a recording artist, and recorded successful soul albums such as Hot Buttered Soul (1969) and Black Moses (1971) as the Stax label's premier artist.
Alongside his work in popular music, Hayes is a film score composer for motion pictures. His best known work, for the 1971 blaxploitation film Shaft, earned Hayes an Academy Award for Best Original Song (the first Academy Award received by an African-American in a non-acting category) and two Grammy Awards.
Hayes received a third Grammy for the album Black Moses.
In 1992, in recognition of Hayes' humanitarian work, he was crowned an honorary king of Ghana's Ada district.
From 1997 to 2006, he provided the voice for the character Chef on the Comedy Central animated TV series South Park.
In the South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet", a satire and expose of Scientology which aired on November 16, 2005, Hayes did not appear in his role as Chef.
While appearing on the Opie and Anthony radio show about a month after the episode aired, Hayes was asked, "What did you think about when Matt and Trey did that episode on Scientology?" He replied (in a noticeably calm, casual manner), "One thing about Matt and Trey, they lampoon everybody, and if you take that serious, I'll sell you the Brooklyn bridge for two dollars. That’s what they do."
In an interview for The A.V. Club on January 4, 2006, Hayes was again asked about the episode. Hayes said that he told the creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, "Guys, you have it all wrong. We're not like that. I know that’s your thing, but get your information correct, because somebody might believe that shit, you know?"
He then told them to take a couple of Scientology courses to understand what they do.
In the interview, Hayes defended South Park's style of controversial humour, noting that he was not pleased with the show's treatment of Scientology, but conceding that he "understands what Matt and Trey are doing."
On March 13, 2006, a statement was issued in Hayes' name, indicating that he was asking to be released from his contract with Comedy Central, citing recent episodes which satirized religious beliefs as being intolerant.
"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," he was quoted in a press statement. The statement, however, did not directly mention Scientology.
A response from Stone said that Hayes' complaints stemmed from the show's criticism of Scientology and that he "has no problem – and he’s cashed plenty of checks – with our show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons or Jews."
Stone adds, "[We] never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."
Stone and Parker agreed to release Hayes from his contract per his request.
On March 20, 2006, Roger Friedman of Fox News reported having been told that the statement was made in Hayes's name, but not by Hayes himself, as he suffered a stroke in January.
He wrote: "Isaac Hayes did not quit South Park. My sources say that someone quit it for him. ... Friends in Memphis tell me that Hayes did not issue any statements on his own about South Park. They are mystified."
Hayes spokeswoman Amy Harnell denied that Hayes had had a stroke, but on October 26, 2006 Hayes himself confirmed that he did.
On January 24, 2007, the New York Post reported that Hayes had told their reporter "They didn’t pay me enough" and "They weren’t that nice".
The South Park season 10 premiere (aired March 22, 2006) featured "The Return of Chef", a thinly veiled telling of the affair from Parker and Stone's point of view.
Using sound clips from past episodes, it depicts Chef as having been brainwashed and urges viewers (via one of the kids talking to the town) to "remember Chef as the jolly old guy who always broke into song" and not to blame Chef for his defection, but rather, as Kyle stated, "be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains."