‘Oh Happy Day’ singer Edwin Hawkins has died, aged 74


Edwin Hawkins, the singer best known for popularising urban gospel music during the 1960s, has died at the age of 74.

In a statement, his publicist confirmed that the Grammy-winning star had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Hawkins was best known for the 1969 hit ‘Oh Happy Day’, which was renowned for fusing traditional gospel sounds with modern soul.

The song experienced a resurgence in popularity during the 1990s when it was included in Whoopi Goldberg comedy Sister Act 2.

It later featured on the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)’s songs of the century.

The track was initially released as a single, and went on to sell seven million copies before it was later covered by the likes of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin.

Along with his backing band, Hawkins also provided vocals for folk singer Melanie’s Lay Down (Candles in The Rain) in 1970.

After coming from a musical family, Hawkins’ first foray into the music industry came during the 1960s when he founded the Northern California State Youth Choir at University, before the group later recorded ‘Oh Happy Day’.

His last public appearance came in December 2017, when he performed at the Holiday Soul concert in San Francisco.