“I Need To Pray, lead by: Lynette Hawkins Stephens along with The Love Center Choir. From the album entitled Edwin Hawkins Live with The Oakland Symphony Orchestra.” I’ve known for a few years the magic of black gospel singing. Can’t put my finger on it, but I know it when I hear it. It might be gone. I don’t know. A lot of it emanated from the 70s with Edwin (1943-2018) and Walter (1949-2010) Hawkins. I’ll have to look and see if Oakland still even has a symphony!
Edwin had The Edwin Hawkins Singers, Walter had the Love Center Choir. Edwin arrived on the scene in 1969 at the ripe old age of 26 along with Dorothy Morrison when he came up with a new arrangement of O Happy Day. Sold over a million copies, international success. Walter started out a member of his brother’s choir. He really came into his own with 1975’s Love Alive album. Its a little bizarre, he produced albums for wife Tramaine, sister Lynette and cousin Shirley Miller.
Musical talent of that depth in one family is beyond my comprehension. But its more than that. What I gave were the facts. What my words will fail to convey is the passion of the “urban contemporary gospel” sound. I suppose that’s why I put the video up. Lynette and the Edwin Hawkins Singers flow together effortlessly. When you watch the choir, the power and the talent they have is simply phenomenal. I suppose you start getting into the “gift from God” thing.
Just no other way to explain it, when music stirs the soul like that. Just no other way. I realize over the years I’ve tried to tackle this to no avail. Another choir from the past I just love are the Ray Conniff Singers. Its a totally different ballgame. That’s my go-to group for pop music choral arrangements. Simply beautiful what they can do with just their voices. I’ll never be able to explain myself. Maybe that’s why it sticks with me.
Maybe its like when you hear your favorite version of Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art, or some other gospel favorite, it grabs hold of you and there’s just no explaining why.