"The Legendary" Lady Tramaine Hawkins - BIOGRAPHY


When the words "icon" and "gospel" come together in a sentence, there are only a few people who fit the bill. Tramaine Hawkins is certainly one of those people. Forever part of the history of gospel music, her vocal performance on songs like Changed, Goin’ Up Yonder, and He's That Kind Of Friend not only are classics, but have brought many a Christian through a dark day.  Her unmatched soprano chops; amazing fashion sense and commanding stage presence have secured her position as gospel royalty. 

Absent from the recording scene for 6 years, the two-time GRAMMY Award winner is back with I Never Lost My Praise, recorded live at Reid Temple AME Church in Glenn Dale, Maryland on February 18, 2006 and produced by noted recording artist and producer Kurt Carr, the recording captures the true essence of Tramaine.  Singing to an audience packed with the elite of gospel including Daryl Coley, Richard Smallwood, "The Queen," Albertina Walker, Donald Lawrence and Walter and Edwin Hawkins, Tramaine Hawkins proves after 40 years in the industry, she’s still got it.

The 11-track collection is a musical mixture of contemporary gospel, traditional gospel, and praise and worship music from the legendary artist.  Excellent Lord, the first cut on the CD, is a rousing, driving rhythmic number filled with high energy.   Perfect for Sunday morning, Tramaine hits hard on this one, bringing visions of her signature backbend to mind.  Excellent Lord is one of many songs written by her son Jamie Hawkins, known in mainstream music circles for his work with artists such as BoyzIIMen, MC Hammer and Mary J. Blige.   Tramaine is ecstatic that Jamie could share his expertise on the new CD.

 “I am extremely proud of my son,” says the gospel superstar.  “Jamie is so talented.  He wrote a song on my first live recording called Cheer Up.  He’s working with his father [Bishop Walter Hawkins] at his church and writing more gospel songs now.  He came to me and said, ‘Mom, there are some songs I want you to hear.’  So he and his wife, Sunny Hawkins, a great vocalist in her own right, contributed a number of songs to the project.  I thought it was so appropriate for him to be working on my second live recording,” states Tramaine.

Easily the most poignant cut on the album, the title tune, I Never Lost My Praise, finds the songstress singing about overcoming obstacles with a praise still on her lips.  An identifiable song to anyone who’s been through a challenge, it displays Tramaine in rare form.  As the listener will hear during the song, it’s a testament to God’s healing and delivering power.  Penned by Kurt Carr and backed by Patrick Lundy & The Ministers Of Music, this is classic Tramaine.

A fan of Carr’s music ministry, she says, “Kurt Carr dazzles the gospel music industry with his writing ability.  He puts a wonderful melody in a song and it ministers like a testimony.  Last year, I was in consecration praying in my church chapel and I received a call from Kurt.  He said the Lord had told him he should be part of this project and that he had a song for me God had just dropped in his spirit called “I Never Lost My Praise”, says Hawkins.  Once she heard the song, she knew it was “ordained” for the legendary producer and songwriter to make a contribution to the CD.

Tramaine is known for weaving her beautiful soprano vocals around inspiring ballads and this project has no shortage of them.  She also turns in some moving and inviting worship tunes.  Come Holy Spirit and Worship You open into the worship segment of the live recording and are two God-directed songs written by Jamie and Sunny Hawkins.  Starting the Worship Medley off acappella, Tramaine sings Praise The Name of Jesus followed by a sweet rendition of There Is None Like You and a nicely arranged There’s Something About That Name written by Bill Gaither.

Lord You Are, a stunning ballad from the pen of Pamela Jean Davis, finds The Maestro, Richard Smallwood, making a cameo appearance as he tickles the ivories with his flawless touch.  The combination of soaring melodies and Tramaine’s flawless voice is a perfect match making it one of most memorable tracks on the project.  Other standouts include the get-your-shouting-shoes-on track, You Get The Glory and the riveting, defiant Don’t Count Me Out.

Not forgetting her roots, she also tackles the mega-hit, Oh Happy Day.   Touted as the biggest selling gospel single to date, Oh Happy Day has been redone countless times, but Hawkins felt it was time to give it her magic touch.  She also wanted to honor the songwriter, Edwin Hawkins.  “When I go to Europe, the song is part of my repertoire.  They just love it over there,” states the singer.  “If you are a gospel singer - even if you don’t know anything about the Hawkins Singers - you have to sing ‘Oh Happy Day,’” quips Hawkins.  “They expect it!”  Also, for Tramaine, recording the song represented her coming full circle. 

In 1968, the San Francisco native hit the “big time” when Oh Happy Day hit the radio.  A member of the Edwin Hawkins Singers, she was swept up in the popularity of a song that became a major crossover smash.  Tramaine, the granddaughter of Bishop E.E. Cleveland, one of the founders of the Church of God in Christ, started singing at the age of four.  By twelve, she was singing with the Heavenly Tones and ultimately connected with the Edwin Hawkins Singers.  Soon after, she was the lead singer for the best-selling Love Alive series (spearheaded by Walter Hawkins) and she quickly became a household name.  Songs like That Kind Of Friend, What Shall I Do, Trust and Obey, Fall Down, Highway, and countless others made her one of the most popular and celebrated artists in the genre.  Hawkins was inducted into the International Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and has been awarded two GRAMMY Awards, two Dove Awards, an NAACP Image Award and a Gospel Music Excellence Award.  She’s recognized for putting out hit after hit, now with 10 solo albums to her credit.

This brand new project, I Never Lost My Praise, will give her fans what they’ve been waiting for and what they’ve always loved from this astounding artist – heartfelt lyrics, dynamic and soulful vocal deliveries, contemporary yet traditional music, a powerful anointing and the uncompromising message of Christ.

Hawkins is thrilled about the new project and feels it’s a great representation of her artistry and where she is in life at this moment.  She says, “When I say that these songs are tailor-made for me, well, I just can’t say it any better than that.  It’s like when you buy a suit in the store.  Although the style is nice, the sleeves may be too long.  But these songs are like having something couture made.  It fits perfectly!” 

Lady Tramaine was presented the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Stellar Awards held in Nashville, TN where she also added two more Stellar Awards to her collection of awards: Female Vocalist Of The Year and Traditional Vocalist Of The Year!  Congratulations Lady Tramaine Hawkins!  The Legend Continues.