Edwin Hawkins was a renowned gospel artist and composer known for his uplifting and soul-stirring music. Born on August 19, 1943, in Oakland, California, Hawkins grew up in a musical family. His mother was a pianist and his father was a singer, which greatly influenced young Edwin's love for music. Hawkins began his musical journey at a young age, playing the keyboard and singing in his church choir. He later joined the Ephesians Church of God in Christ choir, where he honed his skills as a vocalist and arranger. It was during this time that he formed the Edwin Hawkins Singers, a group that would ultimately become his claim to fame. In 1967, the Edwin Hawkins Singers released their iconic hit, "Oh Happy Day," which catapulted them to international fame. The song, originally recorded as a local church hymn, became an unexpected success, reaching the top of the charts and selling over seven million copies worldwide. "Oh Happy Day" became a symbol of hope and joy, transcending the boundaries of gospel music and inspiring people from all walks of life. Following the success of "Oh Happy Day," the Edwin Hawkins Singers released several albums, including "Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord" (1968), "He's a Friend of Mine" (1970), and "Children Get Together" (1971). Their music was characterized by powerful vocals, rich harmonies, and a blend of traditional gospel with elements of soul, funk, and R&B. One of the standout albums by the group was "Travellin' Man" (1978), which showcased Hawkins' versatility as a composer and arranger. The album featured songs like "Joy, Joy," "I Shall Be Free," and "Travellin' Man," which further solidified the Edwin Hawkins Singers' reputation as innovators in gospel music. Throughout his career, Hawkins received numerous accolades for his contributions to the music industry. In 1970, he won a Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance for "Oh Happy Day." The song also earned him a Grammy Hall of Fame induction in 1999, recognizing its lasting impact and influence. Hawkins was also a recipient of the Gospel Music Association's Dove Award and was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2007. In addition to his work with the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Hawkins collaborated with various artists and musicians, including Walter Hawkins, his brother, and the Love Center Choir. Together, they released several albums, including "Love Alive" (1975) and "The Hawkins Family" (1980), which further showcased their musical prowess and commitment to spreading the message of faith and love. Sadly, Edwin Hawkins passed away on January 15, 2018, at the age of 74. His death left a void in the gospel music community, but his music and legacy continue to inspire and uplift millions around the world. Hawkins' contributions to gospel music have left an indelible mark, influencing countless artists and shaping the genre itself. Even after his passing, Hawkins' music continues to resonate with audiences. In 2019, a gospel revival album titled "Edwin Hawkins Presents The Music & Arts Seminar Mass Choir" was released, featuring performances of his classic songs by a new generation of gospel artists. This tribute album serves as a testament to the enduring impact of his music and the timeless messages of hope and faith that he conveyed through his songs. Edwin Hawkins will always be remembered as a pioneering figure in gospel music, whose talent and passion touched the hearts of many. His music brought joy, hope, and inspiration to people of all backgrounds, breaking down barriers and spreading love through the power of song.
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