Edwin Hawkins, Father of Contemporary Gospel Music passes away

It's a deep loss for the gospel community with the passing of Edwin Hawkins

Very sad news today for the gospel community and music world as a whole,  as the legendary Edwin Hawkins has  passed away. Word reached us not too long ago from the news wire:

Edwin Hawkins, the four-time Grammy® Award-winning leader of The Edwin Hawkins Singers’ 1969 million-seller, “Oh Happy Day,” died January 15th at his home in the Bay area, after a bout with pancreatic cancer. He was 74 years old.

Edwin Hawkins was legendaryThis is a deep loss for the gospel community but its also a loss for the entire music world because so many knew the genius of Edwin Hawkins. He has been celebrated around the world and he broke new ground and sailed uncharted territory with his seminal song, “O Happy Day.”  Undoubtedly there’s not a choir in any country who have not sang that jubilant song.  It was a  true game-changer for gospel music.  It parted the waters and ushered in the likes of greats Richard Smallwood and Donald Lawrence, in addition to so many others.

“O Happy Day” broke ground, but Edwin Hawkins didn’t stop there.  He was  a masterful arranger/composer who wrote and recorded many songs including, Worship The Lord,” “God Will Take Care of You,” “To My Father’s House” and one of my favorites “Give Me A Star.”

Always interested in  helping others, he formed the Edwin Hawkins Music and Arts Seminar in 1982 for the gospel music community to develop their talents through fellowship. Many artists have come through the seminar over the years.

His family released this official 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.’” the Hawkins Family said.

PositivelyGospel is praying for the Hawkins family. We are also thankful for the rich legacy he has left for us all!

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Sarah Hearn
the authorSarah Hearn
Sarah Hearn is Editor-in-Chief of, founded in 2011. The site was recently named among Feedspot's Top Gospel and Christian Music Websites.  Sarah is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Gospel Music Association.
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