• Mariah Reeve

Gospel singer Edwin Hawkins dies at 74

The gospel singer Edwin Hawkins, mostly known for his hit "Oh Happy Day," was pronounced dead at age 74 on Monday Jan. 15, 2018.

Edwin passed away at his home in Pleasanton, Cal. from pancreatic cancer, according to USA Today.

Hawkins was credited as the founder of this generation’s gospel music. Many artists followed in his footsteps with adapting pop beats, but using meaningful lyrics. He also stood out by enjoying commercial success and still performing music that celebrated religious faith.

He was an Oakland, Cal., native, along with his eight siblings. He was a composer, keyboardist, arranger, and choir master. Edwin had been performing since he was just a little kid in his church's choir. While he was in his twenties, Hawkins started the North Carolina State Youth Choir.

"O Happy Day," featuring the vocals of Dorothy Combs Morrison, was released as a single and became a million-seller in 1969, showing that there was a large market for gospel songs and inspirational music during the late 1960’s.

"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. "We grew up hearing all kinds of music in our home. My mother, who was a devout Christian, loved the Lord and displayed that in her lifestyle.”

Hawkins won four Grammy’s in total and was voted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. He also toured with his younger brother, Walter Hawkins, who passed away in 2010.