Published on January 16th, 2018 | by AURN Inspirational
Edwin Hawkins, Gospel Icon Passes away at 74
Edwin Hawkins, four-time Grammy winning singer, choir leader, composer, pianist and arranger has died at the age of 74. The gospel legend died of complications from pancreatic cancer on Monday in his Pleasanton, Calif. home.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Edwin Hawkins –– a celebrated artist, innovator, and music icon. Though he will be greatly missed the world over, the message of love, life, and encouragement that he incorporated into his music gives us all the same hope that we’ll join him in heaven and sing `Oh Happy Day.’” the Hawkins Family said.
Born August 19, 1943 in Oakland, CA, Edwin Hawkins was the child of Daniel and Mamie Hawkins and was one of eight children. He and his many siblings including Walter Hawkins, who also become a celebrated singer, composer and died of pancreatic cancer in 2010, sing at local churches as a group. Mr. Hawkins began playing piano at the age of 5 and became the pianist for the group by age 7.
Widely known for the Gospel crossover song “Oh Happy Day”, Mr. Hawkins helped to pave the way for how gospel music was received in pop culture. The hit, which has sold a total of 7 million copies to date, was a re-arranged 19th century Hymn that many have called an “accidental” hit record. The song’s secondary purpose was as part of the album “Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord” intended to be sold locally in his native Oakland as fund raiser. Having teamed up with his friend Betty Watson to form the 46-member Northern California Youth State Choir, the album’s goal was to finance the choir’s trip to attend the 1967 annual COGIC convention.
The Edwin Hawkins Singers feat. Shirley Miller – Oh Happy Day:
Once in the hands of local disc jockey, Abe Kesh of KSAN-FM Radio, “Oh Happy Day” became an instant hit and got the attention of Buddha Records. “Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord” was released under the choir renamed the Edwin Hawkins Singers and featured the vocals of Dorothy Combs Morrison. The song reached No. 4 on the Billboard Pop Chart and No. 2 on the R&B Singles Chart and won them a Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Performance in 1970. The ensemble had continued success with many more Grammy nominations.
The Edwin Hawkins Singers-Father’s House/1971
“This is a sad day in music,” says Liz Black, radio host “I knew and loved Edwin Hawkins’ music even before I was in the church and I know that I’m not alone in that.”
Mr. Hawkins’s is survived by his sisters Carol, Feddie and Lynette and his brother Daniel.
Edwin Hawkins The Gospel Music Celebration: Tribute To Bishop G.E. Patterson II