Many feel that the late Andrae Crouch was the Father of Contemporary Gospel but he was influenced by this giant in Gospel Edwin Hawkins. Please read this bio via Wikipedia.

Edwin Hawkins

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Edwin Hawkins

Born August 18, 1943 (age 71)

Oakland, California

Genres Gospel

Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, producer

Instruments Vocals, keyboards

Years active 1960s-1990s

Labels Pavilion, Buddah, Myrrh

Associated acts Walter Hawkins, Tramaine Hawkins, Andrae Crouch

Edwin Hawkins (born August 18, 1943, Oakland, California) is an American gospel musician, pianist, choir master, composer, and arranger. He is one of the originators of the urban contemporary gospel sound. He (as leader of the Edwin Hawkins Singers) is probably best known for his arrangement of “Oh Happy Day” (1968–69), which was included on the Songs of the Century list. The Edwin Hawkins Singers made a second foray into the charts exactly one year later, backing folk singer Melanie on “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)”.

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1 Biography

2 Discography

2.1 Albums

2.1.1 Compilations

3 Awards and honors

4 References

5 External links


At the age of seven Hawkins was already the keyboardist to accompany the family’s gospel choir. Together with Betty Watson, he was the co-founder of the Northern California State Youth Choir of the Church of God in Christ, which included almost fifty members.[1] This ensemble recorded its first album Let Us Go into the House of the Lord at the Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, California privately (on the Century 70 custom label), hoping to sell 500 copies. “Oh Happy Day” was just one of the eight songs on the album. (The soloists in the album were Elaine Kelly, Margarette Branch, Dorothy Combs Morrison, Tramaine Davis, Reuben Franklin, Donald Cashmere, Betty Watson, and Ruth Lyons.)

When radio stations of the San Francisco Bay area started playing “Oh Happy Day”, it became very popular. Featuring the lead vocal of Dorothy Combs Morrison, the subsequently released single (on the newly created Pavilion label distributed by Buddah) rocketed to sales of over a million copies within two months. It crossed over to the pop charts making U.S. No. 4, UK No. 2,[2] No. 2 on the Irish Singles Chart, and No. 1 on the German Singles Charts[3] in 1969. It then became an international success, selling more than 7 million copies worldwide, and Hawkins was awarded his first Grammy for it. Hawkins’ arrangement of the song was eventually covered by The Four Seasons on their 1970 album Half & Half.

Their second Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 charts was the 1970 Melanie single “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain),” on which the label listed the performers as Melanie with The Edwin Hawkins Singers. The song peaked at #6 in the U.S. In the 1992 movie Leap of Faith, Hawkins was the choir master for the gospel songs.


Edwin Hawkins Singers in 1970

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1968: Let Us Go into the House of the Lord

1969: He’s A Friend Of Mine

1969: Oh Happy Day (Buddah Records re-issue of previous 1968 LP)

1969: Jesus, Lover of My Soul

1969: Hebrew Boys

1969: Lord Don’t Move That Mountain

1969: Ain’t It Like Him

1970: Live at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam

1970: Candles in the Rain with Melanie Safka

1970: Pray For Peace

1971: More Happy Days

1971: Try the Real Thing with Melanie Safka

1972: Peace Is Blowin’ In The Wind

1972: Children Get Together

1973: I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing

1974: New World

1975: Edwin Hawkins Presents the Matthews Sisters

1976: Wonderful

1977: The Comforter

1979: Edwin Hawkins Live at the Symphony

1982: Imagine Heaven

1983: Edwin Hawkins presents The Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir

1984: Angels Will Be Singing with the Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir

1985: Have Mercy with the Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir

1987: Give Us Peace with the Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir

1988: That Name with the Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir

1990: Face to Face

1995: Anything is Possible

1998: Love Is the Only Way


1989: 18 Great Songs

1998: The Very Best Of

Awards and honors

Altogether Hawkins has won four Grammy Awards:

1970: Best Soul Gospel Performance – “Oh Happy Day”, performed by the Edwin Hawkins Singers;

1971: Best Soul Gospel Performance – “Every Man Wants to Be Free”, performed by the Edwin Hawkins Singers;

1978: Best Soul Gospel Performance, Contemporary – “Wonderful!”;

1993: Best Gospel Choir or Chorus Album – choir director on Edwin Hawkins Music & Arts Seminar Mass Choir – Recorded Live in Los Angeles, performed by the Music & Arts Seminar Mass Choir

In 2007, Hawkins was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame and attended the formal awards show in 2009.

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