What was once a local choir in Oakland, took the world by storm and became a household name.
The Hawkins Youth Choir was created with the Hawkins family of two parents and 8 teenaged children in the 1960s.
Through years of expansion, they became the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Their style in music was very classic and musical, as you can hear a full band behind the choirs voices.
I Hear the Voice Of Jesus-1968
The choir began creating and selling albums to raise money early on. This lead to the rise of “Oh Happy Day” when the album was placed in the right hands of a local radio DJ. Soon enough the song was crossing over to pop charts, becoming Grammy award winning, and being covered by the legendary Aretha Franklin. In its current time, “Oh Happy Day” had a fresh and up beat sound to gospel.
Shortly after this success, Edwin Hawkins brother Walter Hawkins established Love Center, a church of god in christ in Oakland, California. When the word had got out, artists such as Richard Smallwood and the Clark sisters would travel miles to watch the choir and perform.
Walter Hawkins wife Tremaine Hawkins getting her flowers from the Clark Sisters
By the 1980s, crowned “Queen of Disco” Sylvester became apart of the church and choir. Sylvester also collaborated with Hawkins sister Lynette Hawkins on a few of his albums.
Hence being the queen of Disco, Sylvester was a flamboyant gay man who was accepted by the church, giving other gays a home and a voice. Around this time, the musical style of the choir started to pick up and modernize just enough to appeal to their already established crowd and their contemporary crowd. This shift of musical style was extremely successful in the gospel world and brought the choir more Grammy awards.
The reign fell in the 2000s when Walter Hawkins died of pancreatic cancer 5 years after his last album release. Edwin Hawkins died in 2018 with the same condition. Their legacy lived on through their musical family and the honors of artists who came after them. Their musical impact is expressed by many.
Be Grateful original-1979
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