- Melinda E. Weekes
gospel music singer, composer, and pioneer of contemporary gospel music, was born in Oakland, California, one of eight children of Dan Lee, a longshoreman with the Port of Oakland, and Maime Hawkins, a homemaker. Both the piano and the church were central fixtures of daily life for this close-knit family during the World War II era. The Hawkins family would gather around the piano for hours of impromptu singing, playful harmonizing, and group rehearsing. Edwin sang in the youth choir and played piano for the family singing group. Throughout his adolescence, he was well known in Bay Area church circles and had become the Minister of Music at Ephesians Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Berkeley. His musical influences were diverse and included Perry Como, the McGuire Sisters, James Cleveland, the Caravans, and the Clara Ward Singers His early years were ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.