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Tramaine Hawkins (born Tramaine Davis) is an American gospel singer, who has won Grammy, Dove, and Stellar Awards.

Tramaine Hawkins was born October 11, 1951 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, Tramaine and her friends Mary McCreary, Elva Mouton and Vet Stone had a gospel group called The Heavenly Tones and 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

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 club smash "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 crossover to mainstream charts, traditional fans balked. Nonetheless, Freedom followed in 1987. Freedom produced "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 8-minute extended dance mix was finally included on Tramaine's 2001 collection All My Best To You, Vol. 2.

Return to form

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.

Personal life

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.

Source: Wikipedia

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