Thousands of people came to the Paramount Theatre in Oakland Tuesday night to pay their respects to an icon of gospel music. The songs came from the soul.


And the crowd of thousands raised their voices and their hands as some of the nation’s top gospel singers paid tribute to Bishop Walter Hawkins.


From Reverend Jesse Jackson to Bebe Winans, they came to honor one of gospel music’s top stars.


“Bishop Hawkins and the Hawkins family, was our inspiration,” said singer Bebe Williams. “My entire family, the Winans, we wanted to be the Hawkins. And so when we sat and watched television, whenever they came to Detroit Michigan for concerts, we were there in awe. And we said to ourselves, ‘If they can do it, we can do it.’”


Bishop Hawkins was part of a musical dynasty with his brother Edwin, sister Lynnette, former wife Tramaine and many others.


They formed the Love Gospel Choir and won a Grammy Award in addition to garnering nominations. But many say Bishop Hawkins touched people far beyond the boundaries of gospel music.


“He transcended that,” said award-winning singer Yolanda Adams. “I mean, you’re talking about someone who played at Woodstock. I mean, that’s way cool for gospel. So I just think it’s an awesome opportunity and I thank god for having him in my life.”

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