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Gospel Music Giant, Edwin Hawkins, Dies at Age 74

The world has lost another great music giant, the renowned Edwin Hawkins on Monday, January 15, 2018, at his home in California.  Edwin Hawkins comes from a family of singers who have made great contributions to the world, through their music, artistic contributions, seminars and workshops.  Their legacy has blessed music lovers of all genres on the local, national and international arena.

The Hawkins Singers reached the top of the pop charts with “Oh, Happy Day,”an 18th century hymn  that he arranged with a call and response style, began as one of his favorites and became an international hit in 1969. “O’Happy Day”, Featuring the vocals of Dorothy Combs Morrison, was released as a single credited to the Edwin Hawkins Singers and became a million-seller in “69, showing that here was a large market for gospel songs and inspirational music during the turbulent era of the 1960’s. This hit is said to have bridged the transition of Gospel music from traditional to contemporary gospel. The following year it (O’ Happy Day) won best soul gospel recognition at the Grammy Awards.

The Single hit was released Along with Andrae Crouch, Rev. James Cleveland and others. Hawkins was credited as a founder of modern gospel music.  Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke and numerous other singers have become mainstream stars by adapting gospel sound to pop lyrics, as stated in the Associated Press.

(O’ Happy Day) won best soul gospel recognition at the Grammy Awards

Hawkins stood out for enjoying commercial success while still performing music that openly celebrated religious faith. Hawkins grew up as a child singing gospel music.  He was rooted in gospel music and principles through his family.

I had the pleasure and honor of meeting and sharing the “Progress of Gospel Music” (my first book), at the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA).  Edwin was one of the seminar speakers, expounding on the history of Gospel Music.  It was enjoyed by all in attendance. Sadly, on January 15th as I was presenting “A Day On-Not A Day Off” in Washington, D. C., the news came to us that Edwin had passed.

The choir and audience jubilantly pause in a moment of remembrance and sang, “O’Happy Day”.  We were looking forward to seeing him again when GMWA convenes in Las Vegas in March 2018 for the Convention Planning (Board Meeting, March19-23), and the National GMWA in Atlanta, Ga. in July. See Website, WWW.gmwanational.net.

We will celebrate the Life and Legacy of Edwin Hawkins as we continue to enjoy the music that he presented to the world, along with his talented family, who has blessed us.  Read the legacy of his entire life. I can imagine that the angels are singing, “O’Happy Day”. Gone but not forgotten.

 

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