Gospel star Edwin Hawkins dies, aged 74

Joann Johnston
January 16, 2018

Hawkins died at his home in Pleasanton, California.

Credited with being one of the founders of modern gospel music, Hawkins died yesterday at his California home after battling pancreatic cancer, United States media reported, quoting the artist's publicist, Bill Carpenter.

Edwin Hawkins at the BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards January, 2013 in Nashville.

Edwin Hawkins, the gospel great who brought the genre to the masses with the 1969 hit "Oh Happy Day", has died at the age of 74.

Known as a singer, Hawkins was also an accomplished pianist, choir master, composer and arranger.

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One of the songs on the album, "Oh Happy Day", sung by Dorothy Morrison, was picked up in the San Francisco Bay area on underground radio stations and it eventually branched out to both the R&B and pop formats.

"I think our music was probably a blend and a crossover of everything that I was hearing during that time", Hawkins told blackmusic.com in 2015.

Hawkins and 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 and became an worldwide hit in 1969.

Meanwhile, former Beatle George Harrison would cite Oh Happy Day as inspiration for his hit My Sweet Lord, and Glen Campbell reached the adult contemporary charts with his own version of the Hawkins performance.

Hawkins recorded many albums and took home a total of four Grammys, including songs "Wonderful!" and "Every Man Wants To Be Free". He also toured on occasion with younger brother Walter Hawkins, a Grammy victor who died in 2010.

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