When naming gospel music greatest artists who can forget Walter Hawkins. His name will surely be mentioned as one of the trailblazers of good old gospel music. Walter Hawkins departed this life on July 11, 2010 at 2:48 pm PST in his Ripon, California home. Hawkins died of pancreatic cancer. He was only 61 years old.
Walter was born on May 18, 1949 in Oakland, California. He was raised up in The Church of God In Christ denomination. Hawkins mastered the piano and singing. Walter Hawkins started singing in the church in his brother’s youth choir. Walter and his brother Edwin went on to form the Edwin Hawkins Singers and enjoyed the smash hit “Oh Happy Day.” This was the first gospel song to cross over onto the mainstream music charts.
Walter left the group in the early 70’s. He went on to record his LP “Do Your Best” in 1972 while he was also studying for his Masters of Divinity degree at the University of California at Berkeley. Walter received great reviews.
In 1973 Hawkins became the founder and pastor at the Love Center Church in East Oakland. It was there he formed The Love Center Choir. He borrowed $1,800 from his mother-in-law to complete his “Love Alive” project. It debuted in 1975 and sold over 300,000 copies, it was a total hit. Walter went on to complete five series of “Love Alive.” The albums featured his wife at that time Tramaine leading “Goin’ Up Yonder” and my favorite “Changed.” His albums also features such songs as “I Love the Lord,” “Be Grateful,” “I’m Goin’ Away,” Thank You Lord,” and “Until I Found the Lord” just to name a few.
Walter Hawkins was ordained a bishop in 1992. During his lifetime he was nominated for nine Grammy Awards even though he only won one. He also won a Stellar Award for his single “Marvelous.” He was also inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame.
Bishop Walter Hawkins is survived by his brothers, sisters, two children, two grandchildren, a host of nieces and nephews along with other family members and friends.
Hawkins music will continue to ring out from choirs as well as lead singers. Bishop Walter Hawkins has dedicated over 40 years of service to the gospel music industry and let’s not forget the many lives he touched through his church ministry.
Hearts are heavy as the world mourns the loss of a great gospel pioneer but I choose to celebrate his life and his music. In the words of Bishop Walter Hawkins single “Thank You Lord” yes I thank you Lord for sharing Bishop Walter Hawkins and his gift with the world. Rest in peace.
Click on the link below to hear my favorite song written by Walter Hawkins http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Kymk9f2TNQ
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