Hawkins, Edwin R.
- Emmett G. Price III
(b Oakland, CA, Aug 18, 1943). American gospel singer, songwriter, and producer. He began piano at five and by seven accompanied the Hawkins family group. In 1967 along with Betty Watson, he founded the Northern California State Youth Choir with the aim of singing at the annual COGIC youth conference in Washington DC. As a fundraiser, the choir recorded Let Us Go Into the House. Although the group planned to sell the album locally, “Oh Happy Day,” played on San Francisco’s KSAN and became an instant hit. Renamed the Edwin Hawkins Singers, the choir signed to the Budda label in 1969 and toured worldwide, including many non-religious venues such as jazz clubs, concert halls, and stadiums. Since 1969, “Oh Happy Day” has sold over seven million copies and Hawkins’s arrangement remains the signature arrangement in gospel music.
Throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s Hawkins continued to tour, compose, and record. He has produced some 20 albums, though none has matched the success of his first. In ...