The Kennedy Center

Walter Hawkins


One of gospel music's most legendary figures, Bishop Walter Hawkins is one of the most beloved figures in contemporary Gospel Music today. In the Thirty plus years of his career, he has created one of the most prolific and outstanding catalogs of hit gospel recordings and published songs. Recordings and published songs that include such great hits as: Marvelous, Going Up Yonder, Changed, Be Grateful, Thank You, He's That Kind Of Friend, Until I Found The Lord, Jesus Christ Is the Way, I'm Not The Same, Holy One, Spirit Now, Battle, I Love You Lord, Special Gift, Set Me Free, Is There Any Way, Everybody Ought To Know, My Gratitude, It's Right and Good, Cry On, I'm So Thankful, Just In The Nick of Time, Jesus Made A Way, Thank You Lord, I Must Go On, I'm Going Away, Lord Give Us Time, Try Christ, I Feel Like Singing, Dear Jesus, God Is Standing By, I Love Jesus More, Follow Me, All You Need Is Christ, He Brought Me, He'll Be There, Goin To A Place, I'm A Pilgrim, Never Alone, On & On, and so many more.

Walter Hawkins has launched and/or inspired the careers of many of today's biggest Gospel Stars through his work as a songwriter, producer, singer, musician, and as Co-Founder and Spiritual Leader of The Edwin Hawkins & Walter Hawkins Music and Arts Seminar/Love Fellowship. These include: Tramaine Hawkins, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, John P. Key, Richard Smallwood, Donny McClurkin, LaShaun Pace, Kurt Carr, Yolanda Adams, Lynette Hawkins-Stephens, Shirley Miller, Daryl Coley, Byron Cage, and so many more. Walter continues to be the subject of interviews and industry publications. He has had to grant numerous interviews both live and taped for his entire career in Gospel Music. The BET Network paid tribute to Walter Hawkins and the Hawkins Family during the 2003 BET Gospel Celebration while featuring them in one of the most memorable performances of the evening on a few Hawkins' signature songs. Walter was featured on the hit single from Donald Lawrence & Tri-City Singers' "Seasons" and performed several live concert dates with them throughout Year 2002 - 2003.

Walter has appeared on the covers of BRE (Black Radio Exclusive) and numerous other Gospel magazines during his career and was prevailed upon to give an unprecedented Command Performance to the Announcer's Guild of the Gospel Music Workshop of America after the release of his last album project the Grammy Nominated Love Alive V - The 25th Anniversary Reunion in June 1998.
  Walter is the recipient of many awards that include: 1 Grammy Award and more than 8 Grammy Nominations, 3 Dove Awards, Recipient of the San Francisco Chapter of the Recording Academy's 2003 Governors Award for Creative Excellence and Outstanding Achievement, Billboard #1 Awards (the Love Alive IV album project spent an unparalleled 39 weeks at number 1 atop of the Billboard Gospel Charts), Gospel Music Workshop of America, Gospel Music's Lifetime Heritage Award, Gospel Music Hall of Fame Museum Award, and many others (To Be Provided Upon Request).
Walter Hawkins' last album release was the fifth in a series of live recordings, Love Alive V The 25th Reunion, on Gospo Centric Records. The long-awaited double CD reunited Hawkins with gospel greats such as Grammy Award winners Edwin Hawkins and Tramaine Hawkins, Lynette Hawkins Stephens, Pastor Yvette Flunder and Shirley Miller.

Recorded at Oakland's Historic Paramount Theatre, the collection featured Hawkins' World Renowned Love Center Choir. The concert celebrated the 25th anniversary of Hawkins' ordination as a pastor and recording artist. Love Alive V The 25th Reunion embraces a central theme - giving praise and thanks to God. Excitement surrounding this self-produced LP was high in gospel music circles, and was heralded as the most anticipated gospel album this year. For the occasion Hawkins wrote 6 of the 11 original pieces on Disc One and gathered his all-time favorite past recordings for Disc Two. "This was a reunion album", he notes. "I got to work again with people I've always enjoyed working with, Tramaine; my sister Lynette; my brother Edwin; my cousin Shirley; and Yvette."

Young and old, traditional and contemporary gospel fans all enjoy Love Alive V The 25th Reunion. R&B/pop friendly tracks like the heart-wrenching ballad "Cry On", featuring Tony Timmons and Flunder, has strong crossover appeal. Love Alive V The 25th Reunion leads off with the rousing "Thankful" then eases into the soul-stirring "Marvelous, a song that superbly showcases Hawkins' dynamic voice. "Safe In His Arms", written by Kevin Bond, carries an up tempo, hip-hop flavor while the jazzy "Nick Of Time" broaches a subject which we all can relate to. "There have been times when I've been so close to death and then been pulled to safety, it makes you think about how God always arrives just in the nick of time", explains Hawkins. The delicate "He Made A Way" is another of Hawkins' favorites. The performers raise the roof with the rock'n'rolling "God Is Standing By". All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) was the scripture that inspired Hawkins to write "It's Right And Good", a true show-stopper performed with customary verve by Tramaine. The deeply inspirational "For My Good" was a contribution from Rusty Watson who solos on the track.

Disc Two continues the central them with "God Is Standing By", originally done with Lynette in 1976; "I'm Not The Same"; "Thank You"; "I Must Go On"; performed with Miller; and "He Brought Me", featuring Tramaine. "When I reached back, I took songs that involved giving gratitude", says Hawkins.

With great expectations by the industry and fans alike, Hawkins says he's glad to be part of contemporary gospel music's worldwide growth. "There's always been controversy around modern versus traditional gospel. What is tradition anyway? Gospel music doesn't have a particular style. Gospel's got to progress", says Hawkins. "We (The Edwin Hawkins Singers) had probably one of the major crossover gospel songs of all time with "Oh Happy Day" and it brought in a whole new generation of listeners". That song broke more than gospel music barriers, it helped launch Hawkins' career.

At the age of 19, this Bay Area native hadn't considered a musical life. His recording debut actually came anonymously when he sang in the Ephesians Church of God in Christ's youth choir, a Berkeley, California-based church. To raise money to attend a convention in Washington, DC, the choir, directed by Hawkins' older brother, Edwin, recorded an album, Let Us Go Into The House of the Lord, in 1968 to sell locally. Astonishingly a song from that album, "Oh Happy Day", became a pop hit the following year selling over a million copies. In the next few years, the Edwin Hawkins Singers toured nationally and internationally before Walter set out on his own.

He entered the ministry and in 1973 founded the Love Center Church in Oakland. With $1,800 borrowed from his mother-in-law, Hawkins returned to Ephesians with his Love Center Choir and recorded a live album, Going Up Yonder, released on Light Records which rode the gospel charts for months in 1975 and became a mainstay on Billboard's Gospel Top 40 Chart for three consecutive years, making it one of the decade's biggest selling gospel albums. More that 300,000 units were purchased.

In 1978 Hawkins released Love Alive II. It sold 290,000 copies, won two Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association, was nominated for a Grammy Award, and garnered awards from Billboard, Record World, and Cash Box music trade publications. It wasn't until 1985 that Love Alive III was finished. It earned a Dove Award nomination and sold more than a million copies. Four years later came Love Alive IV, which was nominated for a Grammy and remained on top of Billboard's gospel chart for more than 39 weeks.

Beside his own recordings, Hawkins has collaborated with a number of other artists. With the Love Center Choir he appeared on Edwin Hawkins' Live with the Oakland Symphony LP and on recordings by Celt rocker Van Morrison and Lee Oskar. Hawkins himself has worked with Diahann Carroll, Jennifer Holliday, Earth, Wind and Fire, the late house music king Sylvester, R&B star Jeffrey Osborne, as well as gospel artists Yolanda Adams, Donald Lawrence, Richard Smallwood, John P. Key, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, the Williams Brothers, and the Gospel Music Workshop of America. In 1985, he wrote and produced "Everybody Ought To Know", featured on Tramaine Hawkins' album, The Search Is Over . Bishop Hawkins also wrote and produced three songs for the Williams Brothers' LP Hand In Hand that same Year. He wrote and Co-produced I Must Go On, Shirley Miller's 1986 album. The next year, Hawkins wrote and produced a debut album for his youngest sister, Lynette, called Baby Sis. In 1988, Special Gift, an album produced and written by Bishop Hawkins and performed by the Hawkins Family, was released on Birthright/Capitol Records. Hawkins also Co-produced, musically directed, and arranged the Grammy winning Tramaine Live for his former wife, Tramaine Hawkins, in 1991.

When looking back at his musical endeavors, Hawkins understands their place in his ministry. "Early on I thought my ministry and my music were apart from each other. But now I see they work hand-in-hand", he observes. "I can go a lot of places with my music that I can't go as a pastor and vice versa. The purpose of both is getting the message out to people. I've had some material blessings and it's okay to have them, but to be blessed with peace of mind and joy in your life, that's when you will be truly fulfilled."
Walter Hawkins