Walter Hawkins: The Gospel Music Legend

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Walter Hawkins was a gospel music legend who helped shape the sound of the genre for generations. He was a master of writing catchy and soulful melodies that will stay with you long after the last note has been sung.

Early Life and Career

Walter Hawkins was born in 1939 in California. He was the eldest son of minster Coleman Hawkins and singer Evelyn Greer. He began singing in the church choir at a young age. After high school, Hawkins attended Howard University in Washington D.C., where he studied music.

Born in San Francisco

Walter Hawkins was born on May 19, 1949, in San Francisco, California. The middle child of seven, he was exposed to music early on through the church. His father, Walter Hawkins Sr., was a minister and his mother, Cora Lee Hawkins, led the choir.Church was an important part of everyday life for the Hawkins family. Sundays began with prayer at home followed by Sunday school and then morning service. In the afternoon, the family would attend another service at a different church. evening service would round out the day.

Raised in a musical family

Walter Hawkins was born in Oakland, California on May 18, 1949. He was raised in a musical family – his mother, who was a singer, and his father, who was a deacon and choir director at the local church, exposed him to music at an early age. Hawkins began singing in the church choir when he was four years old. When he was a teenager, he formed a Gospel group called The Enchanters with his brothers Daniel and Joseph. The group toured nationally and recorded two albums – “Songs of Praise” (1966) and “Gospel Time” (1968).

In the early 1970s, Hawkins began his solo career. He released his debut album, “Love Alive”, in 1976. The album reached number one on the Billboard Gospel charts and received a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Album. Hawkins released several more successful albums throughout his career, including “The Hawkins Family Singers” (1977), “Love is the Enemy of Greed” (1979), and “Lift Every Voice” (1982).

Hawkins also worked as a producer and arranger for other artists. He produced albums for The Winans, Albertina Walker, and James Cleveland. In 1983, he co-produced Michael Jackson’s hit single “Say Say Say”.

Formed the Hawkins Family Singers

In 1966, Walter Hawkins formed the Hawkins Family Singers, which included his ex-wife Dorothy Combs Morrison, his brother Edwin, and Edwin’s wife Shirley Ceasar. The group released their debut album, Bless Their Hearts in 1968. With a contemporary sound that mixed elements of soul, pop, and gospel, the album was a commercial success, selling over 100,000 copies. The group’s follow-up album Love Alive was even more successful, selling over 500,000 copies.

The Hawkins Family Singers became one of the most popular gospel groups of the 1970s, releasing several more successful albums and touring extensively. In 1979, Walter Hawkins left the group to focus on his solo career. His first solo album was The Man Who Lives Forever, which was released in 1980. The album was a critical and commercial success, winning a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance.

Walter Hawkins continued to release well-received solo albums throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 2006, he released Love Is The Answer, an album featuring collaborations with secular artists such as Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. The album was praised by both gospel and secular critics alike and won several awards.

Walter Hawkins passed away in 2010 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 61 years old.

The Love Center Church

The Love Center Church, founded by the legendary Gospel singer Walter Hawkins, was a place where people of all races and backgrounds could come together and worship. The church was known for its lively music and passionate preaching, and it was a place where people could come to experience the love of God.

Founded the Love Center Church in Oakland

Walter Hawkins was born in West Oakland, CA on August 11th, 1949. He was the eldest of nine children born to Minnie and Walter Hawkins Sr. His father was a minister and his mother a gospel singer. As a child, he sang in the junior choir at his father’s church, the People’s Independent Church of Christ, where he later became the music director. In 1975, he founded the Love Center Church in Oakland with his wife, Dianna.

The Love Center Church is a non-denominational Christian church that is committed to spreading the love of Jesus Christ. The church has grown to become one of the largest churches in Oakland, with over 10,000 members. The Love Center Church has a gospel choir that is known worldwide for their powerful and anointed performances. Under Walter Hawkins’ leadership, the Love Center Church Gospel Choir has released numerous recordings, including several Grammy-nominated albums.

Walter Hawkins passed away on July 11th, 2010 after a long battle with cancer. He was 60 years old. He is survived by his wife, Dianna; three sons, Walter III, Daniel and Christopher; and two daughters, Grace and Christina.

Became a leading figure in the Bay Area gospel music scene

In the 1970s, Hawkins became a leading figure in the Bay Area gospel music scene. He was a member of the Northern California State Youth Choir, which won a Grammy Award in 1971 for its album “Oh Happy Day.” He also founded the Love Center Church in Oakland, California, which became one of the largest and most influential churches in the Bay Area.

Later Years and Legacy

Walter Hawkins was born in Oakland, California in 1943. After getting his start as a gospel singer in the early 1960s, he went on to form the Hawkins Family singing group in the 1970s. The group was composed of Walter and his brothers, Joe and Edwin. The Hawkins Family became well-known in the gospel music world and toured extensively throughout the United States. In the late 1970s, Walter Hawkins began a solo career.

Released several solo albums

In the 1970s, Hawkins began to release several solo albums, mostly on the SavOY label. His self-titled debut album was released in 1970, followed by Love, The Power of Love in 1971. In 1972, Hawkins switched labels andsigned with Motown Records, releasing his album Bless Me Father. He would return to SavOY for his next two albums, 1973’s Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord and 1974’s I Feel A Song.

Hawkins’ final album, Doing the Right Thing, was released on Light Records in 1975. The album featured the hit single “Wonderful”, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart. Shortly after the release of Doing the Right Thing, Walter Hawkins succumbed to pancreatic cancer on July 11, 2010 at the age of 61.

Died of pancreatic cancer in 2010

On July 11, 2010, Hawkins died at his home in Ripon, California of pancreatic cancer, aged 61.

Hawkins was posthumously inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame on August 12, 2010.

Inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012

Walter Hawkins was posthumously inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012. He was given the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award by the Stellar Gospel Music Awards in 2009. In 2006, Hawkins was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2009, and he was a recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an American folk musician.

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