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Last modified 6/18/17

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Oh Happy Day-- Edwin Hawkins Singers:

Oh Happy Day, is a Protestant hymn that has been dated back to 1755. Written by English priest Philip Doddridge, and given a new melody by English musicologist Edward F. Rimbault in 1854, the song became the only traditional gospel song ever to crossover and become a hit on the popular music charts.


Recorded in 1967 by the Northern California State Youth Choir (later The Edwin Hawkins Singers), the song became a number 1 hit in France, Germany, and the Netherlands and reached number 4 on the singles charts in the U.S. in April of 1969.  


Edwin Hawkins, then just 24 years old, was the co-founder and pianist for the Youth Choir.  Oh, Happy Day was one of 8 arrangements he put together for the contingent, which numbered 46 members and ranged in age from 17 to 25.  Hawkins' idea was to sell an album of the songs to help finance a trip to a music conference in Washington, D.C.   Recorded on a simple 2 track device at the Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, California, Oh Happy Day featured Dorothy Combs Morrison on lead vocal and Hawkins on piano.   


Five hundred copies of the recordings were pressed and one began to get airplay on local radio station KSAN-FM, pushed by popular DJ Abe “Voco” Kesh.  Other stations then began playing the song and soon, it was a local hit.  Hawkins and Morrison were then signed by Buddah Records, the choir was renamed The Edwin Hawkins Singers, and the resulting re-issue of the recording became an international sensation, selling over a million copies in just 2 months and eventually, 7 million copies worldwide.  Oh Happy Day ended up winning the 1970 Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance.  George Harrison of The Beatles credits Oh Happy Day with inspiring him to write his huge hit, My Sweet Lord, in 1970

Oh Happy Day

11OhHappyDay (1).mp3