(January 15, 2018) “Oh Happy Day” was one of the great Gospel songs of all time.
Recorded in 1967, by 1969 the song, written by Edwin Hawkins and recorded by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, had become an international hit. It is the most important crossover gospel song that brought Christian music to the secular world and to audiences worldwide. The song was featured in the 1993 movie “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” starring Whoopi Goldberg. The lead was sung by Ryan Toby, an American soul singer, songwriter, producer, and actor.
Today, January 15, 2018, 74-year old Edwin Hawkins -a resident of Pleasanton, California- passed on over to the realm of the ancestors and overcomers. He was preceded in death by his brother, Bishop Walter Hawkins. Together, the two men founded the Edwin Hawkins & Walter Hawkins Music and Arts Love Fellowship Conference, an annual convention that educated attendees on both the music and the ministry of Gospel.
Publicist Bill Carpenter’s statement: “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.’”
Hawkins was a giant in the Gospel world and a part of one of the great families of music history. The Hawkins were to gospel what the Jacksons were to pop, soul, and R&B.
The Edwin Hawkins Singers reached the top 10 on the pop charts with “Oh Happy Day,” a call and response hymn that began as a local favorite in the San Francisco Bay Area. The following year the Hawkins singers backed folk guitarist Melanie on her top 10 hit “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” and also won a Grammy for best soul gospel performance for the Edwin Hawkins title hit.
Hawkins, who has been ill for quite a while with pancreatic cancer, is survived by siblings Carol, Feddie, Daniel, and Lynette. He was preceded in death by his younger brother, Walter, of LOVE ALIVE! Band and Orchestra, who also died of pancreatic cancer in 2010.
Walter’s former wife and ex-sister- in- law of Edwin, the incomparable Tramaine Hawkins, remains with us amongst the living.
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.