Philander Smith College Announces New Choral Director

Philander Smith College is pleased to announce that the renowned Philander Smith Collegiate Choir is now under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Hayes who previously led the choir from 1985-1993.


A graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Hayes is a respected and noted choral director with over 33 years of experience in higher education. He has led the choirs at a number of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) including Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, Alabama), Lemoyne-Owen College (Memphis, Tennessee) and most recently at Wiley College (Marshall, Texas).

Dr. Hayes’ tenure as a choral director boasts several noteworthy accomplishments. Under his leadership, the Wiley College Choir recorded movie soundtracks for notable films such as The Great Debaters (2007), The Good Fight: James Farmer Remembers the Civil Rights Movement (2009) and The Birth of a Nation (2016). Additionally, he has directed both Wiley College and Tuskegee University in concert at the White House.

The Philander Smith Collegiate Choir gained national acclaim during Dr. Hayes’ previous tenure, traveling frequently to perform at the request of then-President Bill Clinton, including being a highlight of his 1993 Presidential Inauguration—becoming the first HBCU choir to do so. Dr. Hayes also led the choir in appearances with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Jennifer Holliday and Michael Bolton.

“We are so thrilled for the return of Dr. Stephen Hayes to Little Rock and Philander Smith College,” said President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. “His long-standing career and success with HBCU choirs speaks for itself. Our Collegiate Choir is a jewel of the institution and Dr. Hayes’ return is a critical step in helping move the choir forward to its next level of excellence.”