Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

HAWKINS, Edwin Singers

Black San Francisco gospel group formed '67 by pianist/ choir dir. Hawkins (b c'43) and soprano Betty Watson: 46 young people recorded eight trad. songs in church, arr. by Hawkins; had 1000 LPs made, sold about 600 to raise money for the choir, called Northern California State Youth Choir. A local disc jockey began playing the album heavily early '69, especially "Oh Happy Day' (song from 1755, revised 1855 and found in standard Baptist hymnal); distributed by Buddah, who changed the name of the group, the single sold a million by June, made no. 2 in USA and UK, and won a Grammy: real emotion was a novelty in pop music at the time; it resulted in "a rush to make gospel records by the labels who were responsible for the removal of gospel and religious music from the black stations' (J. Murrells) and inspired George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord'. Soloist Dorothy Coombs Morrison was credited on the record.