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Gospel Singer Behind 🎶Oh Happy Day, Passes Away

Edwin Hawkins, a gospel choir leader who scored a huge hit with Oh Happy Day in 1969, has died aged 74. He was being treated for pancreatic cancer. Born in Oakland, California, in 1943, Hawkins would go on to found the Northern California State Youth Choir. Their 1968 album, Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord, was privately pressed by a local record label, and contained Oh Happy Day, a stirring, uplifting gospel number that rejoiced in Jesus’s power to absolve sin.

After the song became popular on local radio stations, the choir were renamed the Edwin Hawkins Singers and the track was rereleased as a single. It became an international hit, reaching No 2 in the UK and No 4 in the US. Oh Happy Day inspired George Harrison to write My Sweet Lord, was covered by Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell and Aretha Franklin, and influenced mainstream soul music. Its success also helped usher in contemporary gospel styles that embraced pop music.

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