Edwin Hawkins, the gospel music legend known for his arrangement of “Oh Happy Day,” died Monday at his Bay Area home. He was 74.
The Grammy winner had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, Hawkins’ publicist Bill Carpenter told The Associated Press.
Hawkins founded the Northern California State Youth Choir and recorded the single “Oh Happy Day” in 1967 at the Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, California. The song was recorded on the album “Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord” as a way to raise money for the choir to travel to a church convention in Washington, D.C.
"Oh Happy Day," was released as a single credited to the Edwin Hawkins Singers and became a million-seller in 1969, The Associated Press reported.
The contemporary arrangement was one of the first gospel songs to top the pop charts, and it was this song that ignited Hawkins’ career.
The Oakland native is remembered as the man who helped build the sound of urban contemporary Gospel music. He recorded and sometimes toured with his younger brother, Walter Hawkins, who died in 2010.
Condolences are pouring in from all over the country about the passing of the legendary singer and composer.
Saddened by the news of #EdwinHawkins' passing. He was a gospel music legend, an #EastBay hero, and a dear friend. My deepest condolences are with his family during this difficult time.— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 15, 2018
Heartbroken to hear of #EdwinHawkins passing. Heaven gets to hear him sing his song
O Happy Day in person. Grateful for the music that shaped my upbringing & informed my own music.— israelhoughton (@israelhoughton) January 15, 2018