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Edwin Hawkins, 'Oh Happy Day' singer, gospel star dead at 74

By Wade Sheridan
Edwin Hawkins, 'Oh Happy Day' singer, gospel star dead at 74
Edwin Hawkins (C), a singer best known for hit song "Oh Happy Day" died Monday at the age of 74 after a bout with pancreatic cancer. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Edwin Hawkins, a gospel star best known for hit song "Oh Happy Day," has died at the age of 74.

Hawkins died Monday at his home in Pleasanton, Calif. after a battle with pancreatic cancer, his publicist Bill Carpenter confirmed.

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"It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Edwin Hawkins -- a celebrated artist, innovator, and music icon," the Hawkins family said in a statement on the singers Facebook page.

"Though he will be greatly missed the world over, the message of love, life, and encouragement that he incorporated into his music gives us all the same hope that we'll join him in heaven and sing `Oh Happy Day,'" they continued.

Hawkins joined the Northern California State Youth Choir in the late 1960s. The group's first album Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord, included "Oh Happy Day" which the group later released as a single under the new band name, The Edwin Hawkins Singers.

"Oh Happy Day" would reach No. 4 on Billboard's pop chart and No. 2 on the R&B chart. It won the Grammy for best soul gospel performance in 1970 and sold over seven million copies.

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Hawkins would go on to be nominated for 19 Grammys and win three more in gospel categories and was known for touring internationally with his siblings and other relatives as the Hawkins Family.

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