Edwin Hawkins, the man behind the hit song Oh Happy Day, dies

Oakland-Born Gospel Great Edwin Hawkins, Famed for 'Oh Happy Day,' Dies at 74

The Oakland native also did some touring with his brother Walter Hawkins, a Grammy victor as well, who died in 2010.

The gospel singer best known for his song "Oh Happy Day" died on January 15.

According to his long-time publicist Bill Carpenter, Hawkins had been battling pancreatic cancer for the last few years.

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Along with Andrae Crouch, James Cleveland and a handful of others, Hawkins was credited as a founder of modern gospel music.

"Oh Happy Day", featuring the vocals of Dorothy Combs Morrison, was released in 1969.

Born in Oakland on August 19, 1943, Edwin was spotted as a musical talent while singing in his church choir.

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A composer, keyboardist, arranger and choir master from Oakland, Hawkins had been performing with his family and in church groups since childhood.

The Californian released dozens of albums between 1968 and 1998 earning several awards.

The musician was still pursuing an interior design course when he got his big break, and co-founded the Northern California State Youth Choir. He would win that category two more times, in 1971 for "Every Man Wants to Be Free" and 1978 for "Wonderful".

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He was criticised for turning gospel music into pop by traditionalists. They continued, "We ask that you please send your support, love, well wishes and prayers of comfort and healing to Edwin and his loved ones at this time".

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