If you were listening to AM radio in 1969, you felt the blast of fresh air provided by the unlikely gospel/pop hit “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Who were the Edwin Hawkins Singers and where did that song come from? The Wall Street Journal’s Marc Myers goes to the principals to get the story behind the single in “When he washed my sins away.” (The format of the story is screwed up by the videos posted with it online, but I think you’ll find what remains unobscured is still of interest.)
Singer Dorothy Morrison recalls: “I ad-libbed on When Jesus washed, oh, when he washed, my sins away. And I threw in a James Brown good God toward the end, which made the song feel even more current.” Forty-plus years later, the song still packs a wallop.