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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rest In Peace: Walter Hawkins

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Rest In Peace: Walter Hawkins

Gospel great (an overused term but most appropriate here) Bishop Walter L. Hawkins died today after battling with cancer for some time.We send our prayers and support to Edwin Hawkins, Lynette Hawkins-Stephens, his former wife Tremaine Hawkins, his son Jamie Hawkins(Walter Hawkins Jr.), his daughter Trystan, The Love Center Church and all of his family and friends.
Many of us learned of Walter’s sickness earlier this year when he was unable to attend the Stellar Awards In January. Last month, we thought that he would attend to attend he and his brother’s annual “Music & Arts Love Fellowship Conference” in Chicago this past June but ultimately he was unable to attend. Walter was one of the most influential voices and songwriters in gospel music. His true tenor voice was one to strive for and remained consistent throughout his entire career. As a songwriter, he wrote classic and memorable songs that you’ve undoubtedly sung at some point in your gospel life. For me personally, Walter Hawkins had songs that were literally the soundtrack to major milestones in my spiritual development. (“Thank You Lord” still puts a knot in my throat and I have to sing along and it’s not unusual for me to cry when I hear it. ) An artist for over 40 years, many of his song were probably recorded before you were born. But the minute you hear the opening chords, you know them today in 2010. If you think I’m lying. Let’s just go down a SHORT list:
1. Thank You (probably one of the most popular gospel songs ever after “Oh Happy Day”)
2. Be Grateful
3. Going Up Yonder
4. Changed
5. When The Battle Is Over
6. God Is Standing By
7. It’s Right And Good
8. Try Christ
9. Never Alone
10. It’s Right & Good
11. Marvelous
And I could keep going.  I can’t even get into the hits and memorable songs he sang with his brother Edwin and The Hawkins Family or with other artists such as Donald Lawrence’s “Seasons.” It’s hard for me to type this piece because it’s still very fresh and difficult. So as I always do when a great artist that I’m a fan of passes on, I’ll just linger in the music for a little while. Take a listen below to some selected tracks either sung or written by Walter Hawkins and reflect with me. Walter, we miss you and thanks for leaving us music that thankfully will never die.

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