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Good morning, Netizens…
Photo: Walter Hawkins, center.
I waited awhile to see if any of the local news services would pick this story up, but no one seems to remember the Hawkins Family.
If you lived in the East Bay Area during the 60’s and 70’s, if you truly loved gospel music, the Hawkins Family inexorably were woven into our lives, even before they recorded their first hit album, thus crossing over that line between the pop music culture and gospel. The brothers Edwin and Walter Hawkins were performing at House of the Lord at the Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley when they first recorded “Oh Happy Day” which rocketed atop the pop music charts with meteoric ease.
Perhaps none of the Hawkins family more epitomized the tremendous musical gifts they brought to the forefront of gospel music than Bishop Walter Hawkins, a Grammy Award-winning gospel singer, composer and pastor. A graduate of the theological seminary at U.C. Berkeley, Hawkins cut his first album, Do Your Best while he was still at student in 1972. The next year, Hawkins became a pastor and founded the Love Center Church in Oakland. It was there he formed a choir, one which continued his legacy of producing and performing award-winning albums.
However, where Bishop Hawkins truly left his mark on the face of mankind, began as he practiced the religion of inclusion at the Love Center Church. His music, his ministry, his life all spoke to everyone, without regard to their race, creed or sexual persuasion, which brought an enduring face to urban religion in the Bay Area.
Bishop Walter Hawkins passed away Sunday at his home of pancreatic cancer, and yes, he will be missed by many although his music will live on.