This is one of my favourite Christian songs and I don’t think I am alone. Oh Happy Day, written by Edwin Hawkins in 1968, is the all-time best-selling Gospel song to date.
The above video which features Edwin Hawkins does not have the best video quality, but I wanted a clip with Edwin singing his hit.
Edwin (70) grew up in a musical family. He started singing in the church choir when he was seven. In 1967, he along with Betty Watson formed the 50-member Northern California State Youth Choir.
The next year they released an album entitled Let us go into the House of the Lord as a fundraiser
The record was a unique Gospel production for that period as it incorporated a R&B sound. They only produced 500 records, but one of the eight songs was Edwin’s Oh Happy Day.
The song exploded when a San Francisco “underground” FM station started playing the song. It not only climbed the Gospel charts but also the R&B and Pop charts in many countries. In the U.S. it reached #4, in the U.K. #2 and in Germany #1.
The 500 records turned into 7 million leading to a Grammy award for Hawkins in 1970. Oh Happy Day even made the Songs of the Century list.
They renamed the choir the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Edwin went on to win four more Grammy Awards — one in 1972 for Every man wants to be Free and in 1980 for Wonderful and in 1983 for If You Love Me. He won a Grammy Achievement Award in 1982 for his work on Live with the Oakland Symphony.
Today, Edwin focuses much of his attention on developing new Christian talent. Edwin and his Brother Walter Hawkins (deceased) founded the Edwin Hawkins and Walter Hawkins Music and Arts Love Fellowship Conference 33 years ago which focuses on developing the Christian arts. It offers workshops on many facets of the arts including song-writing, dance and drama, keyboard and vocal technique.
On his website, Edwin says:
In my travels, I meet many talented young folks whose only outlet is in the church. There needed to be ways to help them further develop their skills and abilities, to the glory of God. I decided to help them find themselves in the arts. I felt it incumbent upon me to marshal the finest artists and musicians, who are able to teach this diverse perspective of music and arts.