- Thank You Richard Smallwood and Vision 8:59
The MASTER again, Richard Smallwood with his song of Thanks. This almost nine minute masterpiece, like “Total Praise”, leaves one drained and full of emotion. A beautiful, powerful song.
- Thank You Walter Hawkins 6:34
Walter Hawkins, the Grammy Award-winning gospel singer, composer and pastor of Oakland’s Love Center Church, died July 11, 2010,at the age of 61. He had been battling pancreatic cancer for two years.
During the 1970s, Walter Hawkins personified a new wave of gospel artists such as his big brother, Edwin Hawkins of “Oh Happy Day” fame, and André Crouch, who brought a youthful contemporary vibe to gospel music. Walter cut a series of best-selling “Love Alive” LPs that remain gospel classics to this day. His songs have been recorded by a who’s who in music ranging from Aretha Franklin and “American Idol” champion Ruben Studdard to Vickie Winans and M.C. Hammer. “The impact that Walter Hawkins had on gospel music was so profound and far-reaching that it is now, and forever shall be, part of gospel’s DNA,” says gospel music historian, Bob Marovich, who edits The Black Gospel Blog.
Walter was born on May 18, 1949 in Oakland, CA and came up in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) denomination. He became a master pianist as well as a dynamic singer with an operatic vocal range. With his big brother, Edwin, already making a name for himself in 1969 with “Oh Happy Day” which became an international hit in the Gospel world as well as in the secular scene, Walter was well on his way at making a name for himself as well.
While studying for his master’s of divinity degree from the University of California at Berkeley, Walter recorded his first LP “Do Your Best” in 1972. An October 1972 Billboard magazine reviewer wrote, “Walter Hawkins is a pianist of enviable accomplishments while his vocal prowess is in no way disputable. He’s gathered around him an exceptional crew of sidemen and vocalists and the total effect is completely invigorating.”
The next year, Walter became a pastor and founded the Love Center Church in East Oakland. After forming the Love Center Choir, he recorded their first album as a church family. He used $1,800 he borrowed from his mother-in-law to complete the project. It was the first in a series of LPs named “Love Alive” and it debuted on Light Records in 1975. The album featured his then-wife, Tramaine, leading “Changed” and “Goin’ Up Yonder” which became two of the biggest gospel songs of the decade. A runaway smash, the “Love Alive” album sold a staggering 300,000 copies. The five “Love Alive” LPs featured classic gospel songs such as “I Love the Lord,” “Be Grateful,” “I’m Goin‘ Away,” “Thank You, Lord” and “Until, I Found the Lord.”
In the `80s, Walter recorded a number of solo LPs and produced a number of artists, including Tramaine. Although, he had earned nine Grammy Award nominations during his career, he only won one for his performance on “The Lord’s Prayer” LP in 1980 (he also performed on the televised Grammy Awards ceremony that year). In 1990, he released “Love Alive III” which became the biggest seller of the “Love Alive” album series. The radio favorites were “There’s A War Going On”, “I Love You, Lord” and “He’ll Bring You Out.” The LP remained at the #1 on the Billboard gospel album sales chart for 34 weeks during the almost 100 weeks it spent on the survey. The album went on to sell over a million copies. The 1993 “Love Alive IV” also hit the #1 spot on the album sales chart and spent a year on the survey as well. In between projects, Walter was ordained a Bishop in October 1992.c