FREMONT, Calif. (Amber Lee/KTVU) - Nearly 3,000 people filled the pews of Harbor Light Church in Fremont Tuesday night to attend a two-night memorial for gospel music legend and four time Grammy award winner Edwin Hawkins.
The celebration of Hawkin's life is a musical tribute to his legacy. Friends describe him as a gentle giant in not only the gospel music industry, but also in life.
Watch Night 2 of the memorial service
"His music spoke to us. His lyrics spoke to us," says Derrick Hall, Hawkins' musical director.
Gospel musicians say his message of hope, spirit, and goodwill inspired them. Many met Hawkins at seminars he held to help the next generation of artists.
"When you listen to Sir Edwin's music, you see imagery. You see that relationship. You feel that relationship. You feel the love for people. You feel the love for god," says Anita Wilson, a gospel singer and songwriter who is also a friend of Hawkins.
In 1970, the Oakland native won the first of four Grammy's for "Oh Happy Day." Now decades later, fans describe Hawkins' music as timeless.
"It takes you to a place of serenity, a place of peace. It helps you get through the day, through bad times. It touches the soul. It reaches the heart," says Shanee Hawkins, a fan who shares his last name, but is not related to him.
Hawkins received 19 Grammy nominations throughout his career.
Fellow musicians describe him as the father of gospel music and much more.
One Grammy award-winning songwriter and producer says Hawkins was his mentor.
"He was the most beautiful soul. I don't think I ever met a beautiful soul like him. He was so kind to everybody, so genuinely kind. Always wanted to see everybody do well," says Donald Lawrence, a Grammy Award- winning artist.
Hawkins' publicist says he died of pancreatic cancer January 15 at his home in Pleasanton.
He was 74-years-old.
There will be a second memorial held on Wednesday night, February 7, at 7pm at Harbor Light Church in Fremont. The public is invited to attend.