Edwin Hawkins (born 18 August 1943, Oakland, California) is a Grammy Award-winning American gospel and R&B musician, pianist, choir master, composer and arranger. He is one of the originators of the urban contemporary gospel sound. He (and the Edwin Hawkins Singers) are best known for his arrangement of “Oh Happy Day” (1968–69), which was included on the Songs of the Century list. The Edwin Hawkins Singers made a second foray into the charts a year later, backing folk singer Melanie on “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)“.
At the age of seven Hawkins was already the keyboardist to accompany the family’s gospel choir. Together with Betty Watson, he was the co-founder of the Northern California State Youth Choir of the Church of God in Christ, which included almost fifty members. This ensemble recorded its first album Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord at the Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, California, hoping to sell 500 copies. “Oh Happy Day” was just one of the eight songs on the album.