Jester Hairston was a singer, composer, actor, choral conductor, and arranger from the United States who was best known for his gospel song compositions called “Amen”. Hairston was considered one of Negro relatable and choral music leading experts.

Quick info
Birth NameJester Joseph Hairston
Birth PlaceBelews Creek, North Carolina, United States
Birth Date9th July 1901
EducationTufts University
ProfessionConductor, Singer, Actor
SpouseIsabelle Margaret Swanigan (1939-1986)
Zodiac SignCancer
Net worthover 1 million dollars
Death2000(Natural Cause)

Where was Jester born and raised?

Jester was born on 9th July 1901 in Belews Creek, North Carolina, United States. His birth name is Jester Joseph Hairston and he was raised by his single mother. His father died of an accident during work.
Hairston’s mother used to go to her job while he used to spend most of his childhood with his grandmother. He used to hear his grandmother singing about life in the southern US as his grandparents were slaves in the past. He belongs of American nationality and he has African-American ethnicity.

Jester Hairston
Source: Black Kudos

Where did Hairston go to School?

Jester moved to Homestead, Pennsylvania with his parents where he completed his high school in 1921. He later attended Massachusetts Agricultural College studying landscape architecture. During his time in College, his talent in singing was recognized by many. He later joined Tufts University where he studied music through the sponsorship of Mrs. Kidder. During his time at university, he joined the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.


How did Jester start his Career?

Jester initially started as a singer. He used to sing in choir groups and later he started performing songs as well as acting at the same time in several radio programs, plays, and films. he started writing his own lyrics which mostly included spiritual songs for choirs. He further wrote songs like Give Me Jesus, Elijah Rock, I can tell the world, Poor Man Lazarus, and others. He further wrote the song Amen for the series, Lilies of the Field.

Jester Hairston as a composer
Jester as a composer Source: Jester film project

Hairston learned to conduct after moving to New York from the well-known Russian conductor, Dmitri Tiomkin. He also won Oscar Award in 1936 for the best score for his performance in the film, Lost Horizon.
Hairston also made his appearance in the films starting in 1936. He has made several small appearances in films like The Green Pastures, Sundown, Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle, Summer and Smoke, and several others. He received his first credited role in the 1954 film, Gypsy Colt as Carl and other credited film appearances are Raymie, The Alamo, In the Heat of the Night, Lady Sings the Blues, To Kill A Mockingbird alongside Eliza Scanlen.

Hairston also made his first television appearances in the 1951 series The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show. He started making several smaller appearances in series like You Are There, Gunsmoke, The Virginian alongside Harrison Ford, etc. He is better known for his role as Wildcat in the series, That’s My Mama in 1974 and the series Amen as Rolly Forbes in 1986.



Hairston tied his knot to Isabelle Margaret Swanigan in 1939. The couple stayed together till their death. There has been information regarding his children or his love life.


Physical Feature

Jester Hairston was born under the zodiac sign, Cancer. He had a slim and tall body build. He looked like a typical African-American man. He has a dark skin tone and black eyes.

Jester Hairston and his wife funeral
Jester and his wife funeral            Source: Flickr

What is the Current Net Worth of Hairston?

Jester Hairston has a net worth of over 1 million dollars at the time of his death. He was successful in his career and gained fame with his several professions, sometimes as a conductor, singer, songwriter, and actor. He was a Christian and he spent his life singing and writing Christian songs as well as songs representing African spirituality.


Cause of Death

Hairston died at the age of 98 in 2000. The cause of his death was natural and he lived his life to the fullest. HiGras funeral was done in Inglewood, California in a cemetery called Inglewood Park Cemetery. His wife died earlier in 1986.


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