Walter Hawkins

Last updated
Walter Hawkins
Walter Hawkins performs on stage in the East Room of the White House.jpg
Hawkins performed on stage in the East Room of the White House, where he was joined on stage by his brother Edwin, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, in honor of Black Music Month.
Background information
Birth nameWalter Lee Hawkins [1]
Born(1949-05-18)May 18, 1949 [1]
Oakland, California, U.S. [1]
DiedJuly 11, 2010(2010-07-11) (aged 61)
Ripon, California, U.S.
Genres Gospel
Occupation(s) Pastor, singer, songwriter, producer
Instruments Vocals, piano, keyboards
Years active1960s–2010
Labels Light, Birthright, Malaco, GospoCentric, Interscope, Coda Records
Associated acts Tramaine Hawkins, Edwin Hawkins, Andraé Crouch

Walter Lee Hawkins (May 18, 1949 – July 11, 2010) was an American gospel music singer and pastor. He was consecrated to the bishopric in 2000.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.



Hawkins was the brother of Edwin Hawkins, Carol Hawkins, Feddie Hawkins, Daniel Hawkins (Marcia) and Lynette Hawkins-Stephens. Bishop Hawkins was married to Tramaine Hawkins. They had two children, a son Walter "Jamie" Hawkins, Jr., who is married to Myiia "Sunny" Davis-Hawkins, and a daughter Trystan Hawkins. Bishop Hawkins also had a granddaughter, Jahve Neru Deana Hawkins, and a grandson, Jamie Daniel Hawkins.

Edwin Hawkins American musician

Edwin Reuben Hawkins was an American gospel musician, pianist, choir master, composer, and arranger. He was one of the originators of the urban contemporary gospel sound. He was probably best known for his arrangement of "Oh Happy Day" (1968–69), which was included on the "Songs of the Century" list. The Edwin Hawkins Singers made a second foray into the charts exactly one year later, backing folk singer Melanie on "Lay Down ".

Tramaine Hawkins American gospel singer

Tramaine Aunzola Davis, known professionally as Tramaine Hawkins, is an American award–winning Gospel singer whose career spans over five decades. Since beginning her career in 1966, Hawkins has won two Grammy Awards, two Doves, and 19 Stellar Awards.

Bishop Hawkins started his career in one of his brother's chorales, the Northern California State Youth Choir of the Church of God in Christ. The choir recorded an album in 1968 as a local fundraiser. When a song from that album, "Oh Happy Day", became a crossover hit, Buddah Records purchased the master and released it as "the Edwin Hawkins Singers". This led to him accompanying his brother Edwin to establish the Edwin Hawkins Singers.

Church of God in Christ Pentecostal-Holiness Christian denomination

The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is a Pentecostal-Holiness Christian denomination with a predominantly African-American membership. The denomination reports having more than 12,000 churches and over 6.5 million members in the United States making it the largest Pentecostal church in the country. The National Council of Churches ranks it as the fifth largest Christian denomination in the U.S.

Walter Hawkins left the Edwin Hawkins Singers in the early 1970s to establish the Love Center Church in Oakland, California. He and his Love Center Choir had considerable success with their Love Alive series of recordings, which sold well over a million copies from the 1970s through the 1990s. Love Alive IV, released in 1990, was No. 1 on the Billboard Gospel Album charts, where it stayed for 33 weeks. In all, Walter Hawkins produced and/or collaborated on 116 hit songs which were listed on the Billboard Gospel Music charts.[ citation needed ]

Walter Hawkins and his groups were frequent musical collaborators, and recorded with Van Morrison, Diahann Carroll, Sylvester, and Jeffrey Osborne, among many others.[ citation needed ]

Van Morrison Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician

Sir George Ivan MorrisonOBE, better known as Van Morrison, is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and record producer. His professional career began as a teenager in the late 1950s playing a variety of instruments including guitar, harmonica, keyboards and saxophone for various Irish showbands, covering the popular hits of that time. Van Morrison rose to prominence in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the Northern Irish R&B band Them, with whom he recorded the garage band classic "Gloria". His solo career began under the pop-hit oriented guidance of Bert Berns with the release of the hit single "Brown Eyed Girl" in 1967. After Berns's death, Warner Bros. Records bought out his contract and allowed him three sessions to record Astral Weeks (1968). Though this album gradually garnered high praise, it was initially a poor seller.

Diahann Carroll American actress and singer

Diahann Carroll is an American actress, singer and model. She rose to stardom in performances in some of the earliest major studio films to feature black casts, including Carmen Jones in 1954 and Porgy and Bess in 1959. In 1962, Carroll won a Tony Award for best actress, a first for a black woman, for her role in the Broadway musical No Strings.

Sylvester (singer) American singer-songwriter

Sylvester James Jr. was an American singer-songwriter. Primarily active in the genres of disco, rhythm and blues, and soul, he was known for his flamboyant and androgynous appearance, falsetto singing voice, and hit disco singles in the late 1970s and 1980s.

One of those who regularly attended the Love Center church was Sylvester, who had been introduced to it in the early 1980s by Jeanie Tracy. [2]

Jeanie Tracy American musician

Jeanie Tracy is an American singer-songwriter, actress, and record producer.


On July 11, 2010, Walter Hawkins died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 61 in his house in Ripon, California.



Compilation albums

Appearances on other albums



Hawkins was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, and won the 1981 Grammy for Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational for the special project album The Lord's Prayer.

Hawkins won three Gospel Music Association Dove Awards:

He won two Stellar Awards:

Related Research Articles

The 33rd Annual Grammy Awards were held on February 20, 1991. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the previous year. Quincy Jones was the night's biggest winner winning a total of six awards including Album of the Year.

Andraé Crouch American musician

Andraé Edward Crouch was an American gospel singer, songwriter, arranger, record producer and pastor. Referred to as "the father of modern gospel music" by contemporary Christian and gospel music professionals, Crouch was known for his compositions "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power", "My Tribute " and "Soon and Very Soon". He collaborated on some of his recordings with artists, such as Stevie Wonder, El DeBarge, Philip Bailey, Chaka Khan, Sheila E. and vocal group Take 6, and many recording artists covered his material, including, Bob Dylan, Barbara Mandrell, Paul Simon, Elvis Presley and Little Richard. In the 1980s and 1990s, he was known as the "go to" producer for superstars who sought a gospel choir sound in their recordings, appearing on a number of recordings by including Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror", Madonna's "Like a Prayer", and "The Power", a duet between Elton John and Little Richard. Crouch was noted for his talent of incorporating contemporary secular music styles into the gospel music he grew up with. His efforts in this area helped pave the way for early American contemporary Christian music during the 1960s and 1970s.

The Reverend Dr. James Edward Cleveland was a gospel singer, musician, and composer. Known as the King of Gospel music, Cleveland was a driving force behind the creation of the modern gospel sound by incorporating traditional black gospel, soul, pop, and jazz in arrangements for mass choirs. Throughout his career, Cleveland appeared on hundreds of recordings and earned 4 Grammy Awards. He was the first gospel musician to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1984. For his pioneering accomplishments and contributions, he is regarded by many to be one of the greatest gospel singers that ever lived.[2] He is best known for his gospel classics, "Lord, Help Me To Hold Out," "Peace Be Still," "I Don't Feel No Ways Tired" and "Jesus Is The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me" just to name a few.

Odia Coates American musician

Odia Coates was an American singer, best known for her high-profile hits with Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka.

Little Sister (band)

Little Sister was an American all-female vocal harmony group, which served primarily as the background vocalists for the influential rock/funk band Sly and the Family Stone in concert and on record. Originally a gospel music group called The Heavenly Tones, Little Sister was composed of Vet Stewart, Mary McCreary, and Elva Mouton, and became a recording act of its own for a brief period in 1970–1971.

Lenny Williams American singer

Leonard Charles Williams is an American singer-songwriter and musician, best known for his work during the 1970s. Williams was the lead vocalist for R&B/Soul group Tower of Power. As a soloist, Williams made several hit recordings, including 1978's "Cause I Love You" and 1977's "Choosing You".

Thomas Anthony Whitfield was an American gospel singer, songwriter, arranger, pianist, choir director and producer best known for helping to shape the fabric of contemporary gospel music with his elaborate choral arrangements and the merging of musical styles ranging from jazz to classical into traditional gospel foundations. This style earned him the respectable title of "Maestro" by many of his colleagues and supporters. He was best known for organizing one of the popular contemporary gospel choirs of all time, the Thomas Whitfield Company, and for producing best-selling records for Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams, Douglas Miller, Keith Pringle, Paul Morton and for Aretha Franklin.

Oh Happy Day Song by Edwin Hawkins Singers

"Oh Happy Day" is a 1967 gospel music arrangement of an 18th-century hymn by clergyman Philip Doddridge. Recorded by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, it became an international hit in 1969, reaching No. 4 on the US Singles Chart, No. 1 in France, Germany, and the Netherlands and No. 2 on the Canadian Singles Chart, UK Singles Chart, and Irish Singles Chart. It has since become a gospel music standard.

Richard Smallwood American singer

Richard Smallwood is an American gospel music artist who formed The Richard Smallwood Singers in 1977 in Washington, DC.

The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir (OIGC) is located in Oakland, California, USA. It was founded in 1986 as an outgrowth of a gospel music workshop, and became an independent organization in 1991. The choir has since toured globally, produced multiple CDs and appeared in films and on television. The choir's repertoire is diverse, and OIGC has collaborated with a variety of pop artists from different genres, including gospel, jazz, and hip-hop.

Daryl Lynn Coley was an American Christian singer. At 14, Coley was a member of the ensemble "Helen Stephens and the Voices of Christ". He began performing with Edwin Hawkins in the Edwin Hawkins Singers and then worked with James Cleveland, Tramaine Hawkins, Sylvester, Pete Escovedo and others. Albums of his include Just Daryl, He's Right On Time: Live From Los Angeles, When The Music Stops and others.

Reverend Patrick Henderson is a gospel keyboard player, songwriter and producer. He has written several songs in collaboration with Michael McDonald, playing on a number of his and the Doobie Brothers albums. Henderson has long associations with many other artists as well, including Leon Russell, Michael Bolton, Nils Lofgren and Freddie King. He won a Gospel Music Association "Dove Award" for Best Contemporary Gospel Record Song of the Year in 1990.

This is the discography of gospel artist Kirk Franklin, an American multi-platinum selling Gospel music singer and producer. In total, Franklin has won twelve Grammy Awards, thirteen Dove Awards and twenty-eight Stellar Awards.

Reba Rambo is an American Christian singer and songwriter. She is a Grammy and Dove Award winner.

Gentry McCreary, Sr. is an award-winning Gospel Music Executive who has blazed a path for legions of Gospel music artists during his decades-long career. He’s most noted as the First African-American Executive to be employed by Word Records, Light Records and Benson Records. With a 45-year industry and award-winning track record, McCreary’s achievements also include the development of his own labels, Luminar and Onyx International Records.

Pattie Howard is an American gospel and R&B Singer-Songwriter, Producer, Composer and Vocal Arranger. She is a music industry veteran who has released two albums with major record labels, RCA Records and Light Records. Howard, who owns her own full service entertainment company, PH Balanced Music, is also known for singing background for many major artists including Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight, Brandy, Mary J Blige, Fantasia, Queen LaTifah, Madonna, Andrae Crouch, Michael Jackson, Curtis Siger, Lisa Stanfield, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Reba Rambo,and Diana Ross. She has dozens of gold and platinum albums to her credits encompassing artists from almost every genre. Howard landed one of her most profound gigs traveling the world with Whitney Houston from 1992-2001, at the height of her career, The Bodyguard Era. During the early 2000s, Howard returned to songwriting, music production, mixing, and mastering and is currently singing, composing, arranging and producing various artists/bands. In 2016 Pattie released 2 singles through her record label PH Balanced Music. "Jesus Is His Name" introduces Pattie's daughter Shekinah Nicole Howard in a contemporary gospel duet produced by Wow Jones and co produced by Pattie Howard. The second single titled "Feel Me, Heal Me" was also Produced by Wow Jones, written and arranged by Pattie Howard. Pattie Howard is featured in the Nick Broomfield Documentary Whitney Houston "Can I Be Me".

Toronto Mass Choir is a Canadian gospel music group that incorporates contemporary gospel, traditional gospel as well as Caribbean music influences; founded in 1988.

John Carlton (J.C.) White is a Gospel singer/songwriter that recorded between 1962-2007. His most noted composition "Stretch Out" was widely covered by choirs and solo artists alike. His original songs also include "Talk It Over with Jesus" "Keys to the Kingdom" "II Chronicles" "Satisfied with Jesus" and many others. He also wrote and recorded "Right Now if you Believe" with Chicago Mass Choir. Bishop White is known most for being the head songwriter and director for Institutional Radio Choir and leader of the JC White Singers. He led the choir from 1954-1979, premiering with the choir on Shirley Caesar's debut album "My Testimony" and "I'll Go." He resigned in 1979 when he began pastoring in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was also the pastor of the gospel group, JJ Hairston and Youthful Praise


  1. 1 2 3 California Birth Index. "Walter Lee Hawkins, Born 05/18/1949 in California". California Birth Index. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  2. Gamson, Joshua (2005). The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, the Music, the 70s in San Francisco. New York City: Henry Holt and Co. pp. 225–227. ISBN   978-0805072501.