Edwin Reuben Hawkins was born on August 18, 1943 in Oakland, CA. He passed away on January 15, 2018.

Edwin began playing the piano for church choirs at a very early age. In 1968, at the age of 25, Edwin’s choir recorded the album, of songs he wrote, titled “Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord”. On this album was a song called “Oh, Happy Day”, which became wildly popular. It’s single sold over 7 million copies within one year!


Edwin Hawkins talent for composing songs and arrangements for choirs is truly unmatched. A recurrent theme throughout the songs he has written is of love for God and each other, and compassion for humanity. His music styling is uniquely him; ask any modern gospel songwriter and they would probably admit that Edwin Hawkins directly influenced their songwriting.

Edwin was an incredible pianist as well. He frequently directed his choirs from the keyboard. While listening to many of his songs, I can’t help but to sometimes focus on his piano playing, momentarily forgetting about the singers.

Edwin seemed content working in the “background”. As a lifetime choir director and songwriter, he was often overlooked for the more visible singers. In fact, Edwin spent his life promoting new up-and-coming singers and songwriters. Edwin is responsible for many successful talents, including Thomas Whitfield, Daryl Coley, Donald Lawrence, Lashun Pace, Richard Smallwood, and many others.

In spite of his being under-appreciated, Edwin singularly had a profound affect on all contemporary gospel music. I believe he is the greatest gospel choir director and song composer for choirs of all time!

Edwin was also part of the Hawkins Family Singers. He is the eldest sibling and the leader of this super-talented family, including his brothers Walter and Daniel, sisters Lynette, Feddie, Carol, and cousins. They recorded several albums, illustrating a unique vocal sound with tight harmonies as only this family could.

As previously mentioned, Edwin Hawkins spearheaded an effort to promote gospel songwriters and singers by founding the Music and Arts Seminar, which he and his brother Walter hosted each year beginning in 1983. Along with various classes taught by guests speakers, each annual seminar was highlighted by a mass choir recording of songs written by various guest songwriters. Each of these albums were produced by Edwin, and the majority of them also included at least one song written by him.

Edwin Hawkins earned four Grammy Awards:

  • 1970: Best Soul Gospel Performance – “Oh Happy Day”
  • 1971: Best Soul Gospel Performance – “Every Man Wants to Be Free”
  • 1978: Best Soul Gospel Performance, Contemporary – “Wonderful!”
  • 1993: Best Gospel Choir or Chorus Album – choir director on Edwin Hawkins Music & Arts Seminar Mass Choir

In 2007, Hawkins was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame.

Edwin Hawkins discography, including the titles of his compositions:

1968; Let Us Go into the House of the Lord

  • “Let Us Go Into The House of the Lord”
  • “Jesus, Lover of My Soul”
  • “To My Father’s House”
  • “I’m Going Through”
  • “Oh, Happy Day”
  • “I Heard The Voice Of Jesus”
  • “Early In The Morning”
  • “Joy, Joy”

1969; He’s A Friend Of Mine

1969; Oh Happy Day (Re-release)

1969; Jesus, Lover of My Soul

1969; Hebrew Boys

1969; Lord Don’t Move That Mountain

1969; Ain’t It Like Him
1970; Live at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam
1970; Candles in the Rain with Melanie Safka
1970; Pray For Peace
1971; More Happy Days
1972; Peace Is Blowin’ In The Wind
1972; Children Get Together
1973; I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing
1974; New World
1975; Edwin Hawkins Presents the Matthews Sisters

1976; Wonderful

1977; The Comforter

1981; Edwin Hawkins Live with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra

1981; Imagine Heaven

1982;Edwin Hawkins Live with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra & The Love Center Choir Volume II

1983; Edwin Hawkins presents The Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir

  • “He Got Up”
  • “Jesus I Love You”
  • “Isaiah 53”
  • “The Comforter”
  • “He Won’t Leave You”

1984; Angels Will Be Singing with the Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir

1985; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir Have Mercy

  • “Have Mercy”
  • “Lord Have Your Way”

1987; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir Give Us Peace

  • “I Need You”

1988; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir That Name

  • “That Name”
  • ”God Will Take Care of You”

1990; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir Chicago

1990; Face to Face (solo)

  • “If At First You Don’t Succeed”
  • “I’ll Make It Over”
  • ”Face To Face”
  • ”He’s So Divine”
  • ”Sacrifice of Praise”
  • ”Pieces
  • ”I’ll Keep Going On”
  • ”How I Love You”
  • ”Still the Need Goes On”
  • ”Do You Know Who He Is?”

1991; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir: Seminar ’91

1992; Edwin Hawkins: Oh Happy Day Reunion

  • I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me” (click on it to listen!)
  • “I Heard The Voice”
  • “Jesus, Lover Of My Soul”
  • “I’m Going Through”
  • “Oh Happy Day”
  • “Footprints of Jesus”
  • “Mine All Mine”
  • “Praise Him”
  • “Here’s The Reason”
  • “Early In The Morning”
  • “Jesus, That’s My King”

1992; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir: Los Angeles

  • “To My Father’s House”
  • ”Oh, Happy Day”

1993; Music and Arts Seminar: If You Love Me

1994; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir: Kings & Kingdoms

  • “There’s Something About That Name (by Bill & Gloria Gaither, arrangement by Edwin Hawkins)

1995; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir: All Things are Possible

  • “Let Jesus Love You”

1997: Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir: Dallas

  • “Draw Me Nearer” (by Fanny Crosby, arrangement by Edwin Hawkins)

1998; Love Is the Only Way (solo)

  • “Oh, Happy Day”
  • ”Love Is The Only Way”
  • ”Beloved”
  • ”Another Day” (by Edwin Hawkins and Carl Wheeler)
  • ”Chosen”
  • ”Child of the King”
  • ”Love is the Reason”
  • ”Don’t Forget to Pray”

1998; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir: Tampa

  • “Great Is Thy Faithfullness”

2000; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir: Shine Your Light

This production is actually a republished version of the 1995 All Things Are Possible album with these three additional songs added that Edwin wrote:

  • “Look Up and Live”
  • ”Calling”
  • ”Lord We Try”

2000; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir: Church Time

2002; Music & Arts Love Fellowship Conference Mass Choir: Good God

  • Produced by Edwin Hawkins

2003; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir: All The Angels

  • “All The Angels”

2008; Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir: Testify

  • “Testify”
  • ”Wait on the Lord”