Gospel music greats gathering in Fremont for Edwin Hawkins tribute

Edwin Hawkins, right, speaks during a memorial for his brother Bishop Walter Lee Hawkins at the Paramount Theatre on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 in Oakland, Calif. To the left is Hawkins' brother Daniel and sister Carol. Hawkins was the pastor and founder of Love Center Ministries, Inc. in Oakland and a grammy award-winning gospel singer. He died of cancer on July 11. (Jane Tyska/Staff)

Some of Gospel music’s biggest stars are heading to the Bay Area to pay tribute to one of the genre’s true legends — Oakland native Edwin Hawkins — who died at his Pleasanton home in January at the age of 74.

Donnie McClurkin, Marvin Winans, Bebe Winans, Beverly Crawford, Anita Wilson, LaShun Pace, Ted Winn, Melonie Daniels-Walker, Chrystal Rucker, BSlade, Chrystal Rucker, Minister Carole King, Tibari and Bishop Yvette Flunder are among the artists set to perform during the two-night “Celebration of Life” tribute concert on Feb. 6-7 at the Harbor Light Church, 4760 Thornton Ave., Fremont.

The event starts at 7 p.m. each night. The public is invited to attend and admission is free. The “Celebration of Life” event will also be live-streamed on Hawkins’ Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/iamedwinhawkins/.

The artists will be performing from Hawkins’ deep catalog, which includes such favorites as “Worship the Lord” and “Imagine Heaven.”

Gospel fans can also expect to hear Hawkins’ best-known offering, “Oh Happy Day,” which was released in 1969 and went on to win a Grammy Award. The song remains incredibly popular to this day, having reportedly remained on Billboard’s Gospel Digital Songs sales chart for 275 weeks and counting. After his death, the song reportedly rocketed back up the charts for a two week stay at the No. 1 spot.

Hawkins died at his home in Pleasanton on Jan. 15, following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

He’s remembered as one of the pioneers of modern gospel music (sometimes referred to as urban contemporary gospel music).

While many other artists borrowed from gospel to create hit pop/R&B tunes, Hawkins openly celebrated his Christian faith in his music and still managed to top the charts.His first album, “Let Us Go into the House of the Lord,” came out in 1968, and he continued to make hit records into the ’90s.

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