Gospel great Edwin Hawkins dead at 74

Singer and songwriter Edwin Hawkins, 74, made the world smile when he crafted one of the biggest hits in his musical career, “Oh Happy Day.” A 4x Grammy Award-winning gospel music composer, singer and chorus master, Hawkins arrangement of the gospel single for a Bay Area church choir was a gamechanger. On Monday, January 15, Hawkins passed away at his home in Pleasanton, California, a suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area located about 25 miles east of Oakland.

His publicist Bill Carpenter shared with AP that Hawkins has been suffering with pancreatic cancer.

Hawkins is the co-founder of Northern California State Youth Choir at Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, California. The viral single, reportedly produced to fund a trip to a gospel competition, inspired other musical greats to either cover the song or sparked them to be creative including George Harrison, Glen Campbell, Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis and others. It made cinematic history in Sister Act 2 starring Whoopi Goldberg and featuring Ryan Toby, Lauryn Hill and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Self-taught keyboard players, his brother, another gospel great, Walter Hawkins preceded him in death in 2010. He leaves siblings Carol, Feddie, Daniel and Lynette to cherish his memory.

Click continue below for the Sister Act 2 rendition.

Yvette Caslin
Yvette Caslin

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