Edwin Reuben Hawkins (August 19, 1943 – January 15, 2018) was an American gospel musician, pianist, choir master, composer, and arranger. He was one of the originators of the urban contemporary gospel sound. He (as leader of the Edwin Hawkins Singers) was probably best known for his arrangement of "Oh Happy Day" (1968–69), which was included on the Songs of the Century list. The Edwin Hawkins Singers made a second foray into the charts exactly one year later, backing folk singer Melanie on "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)".
Links To Peel
Peel played the Edwin Hawkins Singers' "Oh Happy Day" on his 11 May 1969 show, describing it as a great record. The song became an international hit in 1969, reaching number 2 in the UK singles chart. It is not currently known, according to available playlists, whether Peel played any other tracks from the artists, who returned to the gospel circuit after their pop chart success, but "Oh Happy Day" caught the mood of the moment. Its gospel feel chimed with the back-to-the-roots, "post-psychedelic" mood of much late 1960s rock , and was also an example of the revival of interest in Christianity in the USA, visible in the rise of the "Jesus Freaks" (evangelical Christians who dressed like hippies) and expressed in a number of chart hits from 1969 to 1971 . Peel had little time for most of this, but he liked some black gospel music, such as this record which appealed to both his audience and general record buyers.
Dorothy Morrison, lead singer on "Oh Happy Day", had some success as a solo artist in the 1970s, after leaving the Edwin Hawkins Singers and signing with Elektra Records. She sang in a similar gospel-influenced soul style to other singers Peel admired, such as Linda Jones, Aretha Franklin and Ann Peebles, but so far no plays of her material have been found in his playlists..
- 11 May 1969: Oh Happy Day (single) Buddah
- ↑ Such as in the Beatles' "Get Back", the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary", all of them big chart successes played by Peel in his 1969 shows.
- ↑ Such as Billy Preston's "That's The Way God Planned It", Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit In The Sky" and Judy Collins' "Amazing Grace", all of which were played by Peel, as well as in the popular musicals he disliked, Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell.