Tramaine Hawkins

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Tramaine Hawkins
Birth name Tramaine Davis
Born (1951-10-11) October 11, 1951 (age 63)[citation needed]
Origin San Francisco, California, U.S.
Genres Christian, contemporary gospel
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1968–present
Labels Light, A&M, Sparrow/Capitol, Columbia, EMI Gospel, GospoCentric
Associated acts Walter Hawkins, Edwin Hawkins, The Hawkins Family
Website ladytramainehawkinsministries.com

Tramaine Hawkins (born Tramaine Davis on October 11, 1951)[1] is an American gospel music singer. She has won two Grammy Awards, two Doves, and 19 Stellar Awards.

Biography[edit]

Hawkins was born in San Francisco, California. She grew up in the Ephesian Church of God in Christ located in Berkeley, California, pastored by her grandfather, the late Bishop E.E. Cleveland. While still in high school, Hawkins and her friends, Mary McCreary, Elva Mouton, and Vet Stone, had a gospel group called The Heavenly Tones that performed at various venues around the Oakland and San Francisco areas. In 1966 they recorded the album "I Love the Lord" for the Gospel label, part of Savoy Records, and a 45 for the Music City label called "He's Alright". When Vet Stone's older brother Sylvester, better known as Sly Stone, formed Sly & the Family Stone with their brother Freddie and friends Larry Graham, Cynthia Robinson, Jerry Martini, and Greg Errico, The Heavenly Tones were recruited directly out of high school to become Little Sister (band), Sly & the Family Stone's background vocalists for their recording. Tramaine left the group and started a very successful solo career. She first started singing on The Edwin Hawkins Singers Choir's single "Oh Happy Day". With her distinctive soprano and extensive vocal range, she became better known as a featured soloist with then-husband Walter Hawkins' Love Center Choir.

She scored several hits as a solo artist in the 1970s while signed to Light Records and released now-classic albums, such as her 1979 self-titled debut and its 1983 follow-up Determined. Songs such as "Changed," "Goin Up Yonder", and "Highway" quickly became staples and fan favorites.

Mainstream career[edit]

Tramaine was briefly a member of the 1970s soul female singing group Honey Cone. Honey Cone later recorded the R&B hit "Want Ads" that ironically made its way back into the gospel genre by being sampled on Mary Mary's 2005 hit "Heaven".

Cover of Tramaine's Top 5 album The Search Is Over featuring the hit "Fall Down (Spirit of Love)"

Hawkins is both famous and infamous for her mainstream success as a gospel artist. In the mid-1980s, Hawkins signed with A&M Records and released a pair of dance-oriented contemporary gospel albums. Her 1986 A&M debut The Search Is Over yielded dance chart singles such as "Child of the King," "In the Morning Time," and the monster club hit "Fall Down (Spirit of Love)". The latter topped the Billboard Dance Charts to A&M's delight.

However, Hawkins was somewhat ostracized by her core gospel music audience, who were soured by the lyrically neutral content and heavy mainstream attention her music received. Though "Fall Down" became one of the earliest gospel songs to crossover to mainstream charts, traditional fans balked. Nonetheless, Freedom followed in 1987, producing "The Rock" and its title track as singles. The latter was co-written and produced by The Jacksons.

Nearly 15 years later, "Fall Down" received a resurgence of popularity as gospel singer Kelli Williams recorded a remake of the hit as "Fall Down 2000", produced by avant garde gospel artist Tonéx. Though the song had not been widely acknowledged in the gospel music community, the more than eight-minute extended dance mix was finally included on Tramaine's 2001 collection All My Best To You, Vol. 2.

In the new millenium, Tramaine resurfaced on Gospo-centric Records with a powerful release, "Still Tramaine". This album included traditional gospel songs along with a duet with ex-husband, the late Walter Hawkins, on "It's Your Power". Also included on "Still Tramaine" was an remix to "Fall Down", Tramaine's 1983 dance music classic.

Hawkins won her first Grammy Award in 1981 for her participation performance on The Lords Prayer along with Walter Hawkins.

Return to form[edit]

Following harsh criticism and backlash from the success of her A&M recordings, Hawkins signed with Sparrow and delivered 1988's The Joy That Floods My Soul, including the opener "All Things Are Possible." The stellar set quickly re-endeared Hawkins to her core audience. Between album releases, Tramaine made a famous cameo on MC Hammer's 1990 pop-gospel hit "Do Not Pass Me By". She was also honored with a request to sing at the funeral of Sammy Davis, Jr. when the beloved entertainment legend died in May 1990.

Cover of Hawkins' Grammy-winning concert album Tramaine Hawkins Live

Though Joy That Floods was well received, that studio effort would be eclipsed by the release of the concert recording Tramaine Hawkins Live in 1990. The grandiose recording with its sweeping arrangements and show-stopping medleys of fan favorites would become a benchmark in Tramaine's career. The set eventually vindicated Hawkins in total by winning a much-coveted Grammy Award for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album in 1991.

Following her triumphant comeback, she became one of the first gospel artists to sign with Columbia Records when she released To A Higher Place in 1994. Following this album's release, Tramaine took an extended hiatus from recording. New music would not surface until Hawkins' 2000 cameo appearance on gospel trio Trin-i-tee 5:7's recorded cover of her signature tune "Highway".

Following this foreshadowing, Hawkins delivered the tour-de-force studio recording Still Tramaine in 2001 after signing a new contract with GospoCentric Records. The album would also give a nod to her former career as a dance-floor darling featuring Basement Boys club remixes of the single "By His Strength".

Hawkins again paid final tribute to an African-American legend when she was requested in 2005 to sing at the funeral service of civil rights activist Rosa Parks. Hawkins was also part of the Rosa Parks tribute recording "Something Inside So Strong" from A Celebration of Quiet Strength, featuring other gospel artists such as Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Daryl Coley.

Tramaine has been inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame. Recently receiving the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award and netting two Stellar Awards for Female Vocalist of the Year and Traditional Female of the Year for her 2007 CD release I Never Lost My Praise (2007). She also sang at James Cleveland's funeral. After the release of her second live album, "I Never Lost My Praise", Tramaine embarked on a church tour across the United States. She also returned to Bobby Jones Gospel in 2012 to perform "I Never Lost My Praise".

Personal life[edit]

While married to Walter Hawkins, the couple had two children, a son, Walter Jr., and a daughter, Trystan, with one granddaughter and one grandson.

Hawkins now refers to herself as "Lady Tramaine". Hawkins lives outside of Sacramento, California with her husband Tommy Richardson, Jr., and has one stepson, Demar, with two step-grandchildren.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • 1966: I Love The Lord (Gospel Records) (as member of the gospel group The Heavenly Tones)
  • 1979: Tramaine (Light)
  • 1983: Determined (Light) – #6 Gospel[2]
  • 1986: The Search Is Over (A&M)T – #2 Gospel,[3] #33 R&B[2]
  • 1987: Freedom (A&M)T
  • 1988: The Joy That Floods My Soul (Sparrow/Capitol) – #5 Gospel, #33 Christian[2]
  • 1990: Live (Sparrow) – #2 Gospel, #25 Christian[2]
  • 1994: To A Higher Place (Columbia) – #4 Gospel[2]
  • 2001: Still Tramaine (GospoCentric)T – #5 Gospel, #31 Heatseekers[2]
  • 2007: I Never Lost My Praise: Live (GospoCentric) – #12 Gospel[2]

T Denotes albums released as Tramaine only, as opposed to Tramaine Hawkins.

Compilations[edit]

  • 1986: Tramaine Treasury (Light)
  • 1994: All My Best to You (Sparrow) – #38 Gospel[2]
  • 2001: All My Best to You, Vol. 2 (EMI Gospel)
  • 2002: Mega 3 Collection (Light)

Singles[edit]

  • 1966: "He's Alright" (Music City) (as member of the gospel group The Heavenly Tones)
  • 1986: "Fall Down (Spirit Of Love)" (A&M) – #1 Dance,[4] #7 R&B,[5] UK #60[6]
  • 1986: "Child Of The King" (A&M)
  • 1986: "In The Morning Time" (A&M) – #21 Dance,[7] #26 R&B [8]
  • "The Rock" (A&M, 1987) - #22 Dance[9]
  • 1987: "Freedom" (A&M)
  • 1992: "Do Not Pass Me By" (MC Hammer with Tramaine Hawkins) (EMI/Capitol) – #62 US, #15 R&B, #14 UK
  • 1995: "I Found The Answer" (Columbia)
  • 1995: "Who's Gonna Carry You" (Columbia)[10]
  • 2001: "By His Strength" (GospoCentric)
  • 2007: "Excellent Lord" (GospoCentric)
  • 2007: "I Never Lost My Praise* (GospoCentric)

References[edit]

External links[edit]