Torrence’s Official Tribute to Bishop Walter HawkinsPublished by Torrence Glenn on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 8:47 pm.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Torrence you’ve been honoring” Walter Hawkins for the last week and a half. You’re somewhat right, but if you pay attention, you’ll see I never really took the time to post words that came from me and my heart. I reached out to members of the gospel industry to give their quotes to buy me some time to pull myself together. Truthfully, it was just too difficult to really “go in” the way I wanted to.
The reason it was so hard to write was because of how profoundly I admired and respected Walter Hawkins. I’m a huge fan of many gospel artists past and present. And I even respect quite a few, but the list of artists who influenced me from childhood and whose music I can directly pinpoint to pivotal moments in my spiritual and musical life is very short. Walter Hawkins wasn’t only on that list, but rested with an elite group of folks at the top of it.
If there’s anything I’ve admitted to on this blog, it’s that I’m a choir boy. I love all forms of music and gospel music, but I have a special place in my heart for choir music. I was a choir director for many years in church and in school and although I would sing ever since I was little, my passion for group singing and teaching parts was born out of my exposure to Walter Hawkins’ “Love Alive” series of albums with the Love Center Choir. I didn’t come from a necessarily musically inclined family but their appreciation for music was pretty advanced. I can say matter of factly that I was surrounded by goooooood music.
One of the albums that stood out from me my childhood was Walter Hawkins’ “Love Alive IV.” It was the first gospel album that I was forced to get my own copy of, because my father said that I had already damaged his copies enough. Let me explain for the “young’ins.” In the 80’s we listened to music on these recordable mediums called “tapes.” For a while the “tape” overlapped with VINYL records, but yeah, if you played a tape too much, it was guaranteed to warp, lose quality or in the worst case scenario… POP! There was no fixing a tape, you simply had to buy another one. Needless to say I had popped Love Alive IV one too many times and my father wasn’t having it anymore.
But getting my own tape was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me, because now I could listen to it whenever I wanted to. I was never big on “toys” even though family and friends always bought them for me. I had more G.I. Joes, Transformers, Thundercats action figures, etc. than probably any kid on my block or in my neighborhood but they never interested me too much and they’d just sit in my room and collect. As an only child, you’d think I’d play with my toys for hours on end to keep myself busy. No. Me? I’d rather watch TV and listen to music to pass my time. Well one day I got the brilliant idea to finally do something with my toys. I meticulously arranged every action figure I had into strict and deliberate rows and created my own Love Center Choir and would teach EVERY SINGLE SONG from “Love Alive IV” to my action figure choir. I even had a baritone section of He-Man figurines because with most Love Center material, there was always a baritone section with it’s own distinct part and although it pushed my young musical mind further than it was probably ready to go, I was determined to learn EVERY part and make sure it was accounted for in my “choir.”
From “Solid Rock” to the ridiculously popular “Thank You Lord (For All You’ve Done For Me)” we’d put on the only concerts right in my bedroom and in my mind we sounded really good. And once I was given the chance to move away from the imaginary choir to real ones, I always knew in the back of my mind where it all started. For a long time, I only shared this story with really close friends but after the passing of Bishop Hawkins and immersing myself in his musical catalog, those childhood concerts wouldn’t leave the front of memory. Until now, I had no idea how much of an impact Walter Hawkins had on my life but also on the way I listen to and interpret music today.
So with that said, I salute Walter Hawkins and although his body is gone, I’m glad that his music lives and won’t die… EVER! I truly hope that the choir in heaven has spent the last however many thousands of years preparing because Walter is about to work them out!