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'Oh, Happy Day' Composer Edwin Hawkins Dies, and His Impact Was Legendary

01-16-2018
Edwins Hawkins AP
Edwins Hawkins AP

Gospel music legend Edwin Hawkins, best known for the hit "Oh Happy Day" has died at the age of 74.

The composer, keyboardist, and choir arranger was found dead in his home in Pleasanton, California on Monday.

He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, his publicist told the Associated Press. 

Hawkins was a major force in contemporary inspirational music. 

He was considered the founder of modern Gospel music along with other music legends like Andrae Crouch and James Cleveland.

"Oh, Happy Day" was a top 10 hit on the pop charts skyrocketing the Edwin Hawkins Singers to international fame. 

The song became a million-seller in 1969 and became a crossover hit with singers like Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis, and Glen Campbell singing their own versions of the tune. 

"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."

"My father was not a committed Christian at that time but was what you'd call a good man," he said. "And, of course, we heard from him some R&B music but also a lot of Country and Western when we were younger kids."

Hawkins went on to make dozens of records and won four Grammys in his lifetime. 

In 2007, he was voted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. 

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