BLOG: #GMABlackHistory Spotlight: Edwin Hawkins

By February 25, 2016Blog

Edwin Hawkins will take his rightful place in music history as the man whose inspired choral visions motivated millions to turn their thoughts to matters spiritual by introducing them to the world of gospel. Actually, it was while serving as the organist and choir director for the Ephesians Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, Calif., that a young Hawkins recorded his first “live” album, Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord, with the Northern California State Youth Choir. The album became a huge seller, due to the unexpected crossover appeal of “Oh Happy Day.” Ironically, Hawkin’s updated arrangement of the age-old tune first took off on secular radio stations, then took the nation and the world by storm. Off that song’s popularity, the Northern California State Youth Choir, later renamed the Edwin Hawkins Singers, received the opportunity to tour the U.S. and Europe extensively, appear on such television programs as “The Ed Sullivan Show,”and sign a recording contract in 1969 with the mainstream music label, Buddah Records. Almost all those events were unheard of for gospel acts at that time. Today, Hawkins heads up the Edwin Hawkins Music and Arts Seminar, an organization that assists young artists in furthering their career in gospel music.

Induction Year
2000

Roles
Choral Director, Organist, Composer, Arranger

Significant Songs
“Oh Happy Day,” “Every Man Wants To Be Free”

Group
The Edwin Hawkins Singers

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