The Gospel Music Community Remembers Walter HawkinsPublished by Torrence Glenn on Monday, July 12, 2010 at 7:11 pm.
As we all know, one of the greatest singers, songwriters and vocal producers, Bishop Walter Hawkins died yesterday from complications with pancreatic cancer at the age of 61. It’s still rather surreal and feels like it just shouldn’t be and pulling together this blog is no easier than yesterday’s. As we, members of the gospel music industry, deal with this tremendous loss; many have taken the time to remember Walter and his legacy so I wanted to share with you. So I’ll be passing the mic to some industry colleagues and artists now.
****old school COGIC mic toss****
“Today, I lost my brother, my pastor, and my best friend. Bishop Hawkins suffered bravely but now he will suffer no more and he will be greatly missed.”
“We have lost a legend, one who changed the face of gospel music, the face of church music and whose masterpieces still inspire millions. But more than that I’ve lost a dear friend of over forty years. He is one of the reasons why I am in the music ministry now. Because of his ministry,his music, his inspiration and his friendship, I am the better. I miss him more than I can articulate but his legacy and his music will continue to live on. “
“Walter Hawkins was much more than a prolific, timeless singer, songwriter, producer and musician. He was a man of integrity and excellence, one of class and perfection. His voice and songs will resonate with generations for years to come but more importantly his example of how to live life and treat people will be an even greater legacy. He has influenced me from the time I was a child until the time I was able to record and sing with him. I called him a mentor, an example, an icon, but most importantly he was my friend.”
“We are all saddened by the loss of Bishop Walter Hawkins. His music helped form the gospel industry that exists today. Not only did he set the standard for choirs and groups, but he himself had one of if not the best tenor voices in gospel music history. Every writer, choir director, and singer of gospel music owes respect to Bishop Walter Hawkins.”
“There are probably five people that have influenced my music in a major way and Walter Hawkins is one of those top five. From his lyrical content to the message in every song that he wrote, every song was a hit to me. From `Follow Me’ and `Goin’ Up Yonder’ to `Marvelous,” his music is always relevant. It was relevant when he wrote it and it’s relevant today. He embodied the magic of gospel music.”
“I broke out into a complete weep. I was getting ready to go on stage and somebody sent me a text and that’s how I found out. When I was a teenager, I never missed a concert. Everytime, the Hawkins Family came to Detroit, I was right there. They were like the Jackson 5 for me. To get to actually know the Hawkins family and share stages with them was the dream of a lifetime. I loved Walter and his music and he knew that I did. I was such a fan of his writing that I recorded two of his songs `Try Christ’ and `I Love You Lord‘ on my own CD. Walter is like a king to me.”
“I loved him, I loved his music. What a loss. I’ve known him for thirty years but I’ve been with him several times over the last two years. We were honored at the Christian Music Hall of Fame together. I always enjoyed being in his presence. I remember we were sitting in a hotel lobby in Dallas, just catching up on old times and he was really an encouragement to me. I will really miss him and I know that everyone else will also. He was one of a kind.”
We were listening to ‘Oh Happy Day’ and my mom came home and said “who is that yall playing” and we gave her the album cover and she said “Turn that mess off! God ain’t using no man with perm in his hair”
So a few days later we were playing going up yonder and my mom started shouting and speaking in tongues and crying. She ran back in the kitchen and said ‘Who is that on that record’ and we all said in unison ‘The man with the perm in his hair.’
From that point on our house was a complete Walter Hawkins stalker and fan club to the 1000th power and still is!
Wow what a gift! What a blessing to the world!
I did not know Bishop Walter Hawkins personally but have known people who spoke of his sweet spirit. I thought I could hear that spirit in his music. When I heard of his passing the first song to jump in my head was ‘Changed’. Anyone who has encountered our King can relate to those lyrics and the sentiment that the Hawkins family comnunicated through song. If that was all the bishop had contributed it would have been enough, but there was so much more. Again my heartfelt condolences go out to the Hawkins Family for their loss and heaven’s great gain. I can almost hear Bishop Hawkins proclaiming ‘and now I’m free!!!!!’
Having had the opportunity to present him at his last public performance and the Kennedy Center honoring him was monumental for me,” says Nolan Williams Jr., artistic director for the National symphony Sacred Sounds concert at the Kenendy Center this past April. “All of the staff there wanted to honor people who are currently gospel chart toppers, but I pushed for Bishop Hawkins. I know God put his name in my spirit for a reason so that he would know how much he and his music is loved.”
When I was younger, between 8 & 11, I use to go to Memphis for the summer. My cousins and I would put on plays and play church(do kids do that anymore?).
Anyway, Walter Hawkins’ Love Alive projects served as the soundtrack and backdrop of songs we would sing.
My favorite song was “Try Christ.” I led it and I think it ranks in my Top 5 Walter Hawkins songs. My 5 fave would be: ”Try Christ,” “Be Grateful,” “When The Battle Is Over,” ”What Is This,” and “I’m Going Away.” I could go on, but I’ll stop at 5.
I’m thankful that I experienced his “Love Alive” and had an opportunity to briefly fellowship with him.
I met him a few times, but the meeting I hold on to is when he told me he was aware of my work and knew what I was doing in the industry. I was OVERwhelmed and flattered that he took time to say that to me.
“Bishop Hawkins was the first major producer that I ever worked with on the `Bryan’s Songs’ CD and he really took the time out to work with me and encourage me. I was about 13 and my voice was beginning to change. I was known for doing these Mariah Carey type of notes. So, we had one one session and it was okay. Then, a few weeks later, we did another session and I couldn’t reach any of my high notes. I was sitting on the piano bench with my back to Bishop and started to cry. He told me that this happens to everybody who sings and you just learn to adapt. He was like a father figure and a great role model. I will always remember that encouragement he gave me then and recently when he was encouraging me and talking about me going into the studio again.”
Also, check this BET News Brief that aired yesterday.
These are just a few. As we continue to reflect all the way up until his homegoing service and beyond, I’ll be reaching out to folks on their thoughts and memories on Bishop Walter L. Hawkins. Also make sure to check out some of my blogger/web colleagues tributes for more.
Now, I’ll go back to the music. Enjoy some more with me. “I’m Going Away” is by no means an attempt at being morbid but when I tell you, this song is even more profound and pronounced than ever…..