January 27, 2014

In 1950, Lee Hays sent his siblings the first proof of his existence they’d had in more than a decade: baby-brother Lee, all three hundred pounds of him, harmonizing his deep, dark bass voice on a recording of “Goodnight, Irene,” the No. 1 hit in the nation. Lee was thirty-six, but his voice sounded old and smooth, and at the same time hard, exposed: an oak shivered open.