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GMA Hall of Fame to Welcome BMI Gospel Greats

Posted in News on January 27, 2005
BMI affiliates Walter Hawkins, Mylon Le Fevre, the Lewis Family and Lou Hildreth are among the honorees set for induction to the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame on Tuesday, February 22. Joining them in the Hall of Fame will be Evie Tornquist and non-performing members Ronn Huff and Don Light. Presented by the GMA Foundation, the ceremony will be taped at Trinity Music City in Hendersonville, Tenn., as a one-hour special for TBN.

Walter Hawkins Mylon Le Fevre Lou Hildreth

The GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame was established in 1971 and has inducted 125 members since its inception, including Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Amy Grant, the Alabama, Andrae Crouch, Tennessee Ernie Ford, the Oak Ridge Boys, Petra, Bill and Gloria Gaither, the Rambos, Thomas A. Dorsey, the Fairfield Four, Billy Graham and the Jordanaires. Last year, former BMI President & CEO Frances Preston, the Reverend Al Green, Sandi Patty and Vestal Goodman were welcomed.

Lewis Family

At the age of 19, Walter Hawkins had not considered a musical life for himself. His recording debut actually came anonymously when he sang in the Ephesians Church of God in Christ's youth choir, based in Berkeley, Calif., and directed by older brother Edwin. The choir recorded the song, "Oh, Happy Day," one of the most popular gospel songs of all time. Because of the world-wide success of "Oh, Happy Day," the Edwin Hawkins Singers toured nationally and internationally before Walter Hawkins set out on his own. He entered the ministry and in 1973 founded the Love Center Church in Oakland. With his Love Center Choir, Hawkins recorded a live album, Going Up Yonder, released on Light Records. The album became a mainstay on Billboard's Gospel Top 40 chart for three years, making it one of the decade's biggest selling gospel albums. Between 1978 and 1989, the multiple Dove and Grammy-winning Hawkins recorded more than a dozen albums, among them Love Alive, Love Alive II, Love Alive III and Love Alive IV. In addition to his own recordings, Hawkins was also an adept songwriter and producer and has collaborated with a number of other artists including Edwin Hawkins, Van Morrison, Lee Oskar, Diahann Carroll, Jeffrey Osborne, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, the Williams Brothers, Tramaine Hawkins, Shirley Miller, and Lynette Hawkins.

Mylon Le Fevre was born into a gospel-singing family. When Le Fevre was 17 years old, his first song, "Without Him," was recorded by Elvis Presley. Over the next year, 126 artists recorded Le Fevre's songs. At 19, he made his first album, marking the beginning of the contemporary Christian music era in the '60s and paving the way for a new generation of gospel music that today is the best-selling style of gospel music. After a decade of recording success in the secular rock world, Le Fevre returned to the gospel after re-dedicating his life to Christ at a Second Chapter of Acts concert in 1980. With recording contracts at Word and later StarSong, Le Fevre founded Mylon Le Fevre and Broken Heart, becoming one of the most successful Christian rock bands in the 1980s. Broken Heart disbanded in 1991, but Mylon Le Fevre's ministry has lived on and he remains a preacher and teacher.

Organized in 1951, The Lewis Family has achieved worldwide recognition as an icon of bluegrass gospel music and has been called the genre's "First Family." From a modest but proud beginning in its hometown of Lincolnton, Ga., the group continues today as it began: made up entirely of family members. Now encompassing three generations, the show offers a broad appeal to all ages. The Lewis Family, now on Daywind Music Group, has recorded more than 60 albums in the group's career. "The Lewis Family Homecoming & Bluegrass Festival" is held annually the first weekend of every May at the Elijah Clark State Park, near Lincolnton. "Pop" Roy Lewis died last year.

Texas born Lou Wills Hildreth was a member of the Wills Family, known as Texas' first family of gospel music. In her 50-year music career, she has been an artist, songwriter, publisher, journalist, television host and industry leader. Hildreth was the first woman to own a gospel music artist booking agency and was Mark Lowry's first agent. She is a veteran of gospel television, having hosted Wills Family Inspirational Time in the '60s, one of the original syndicated shows. In the '70s and '80s, she hosted a daily television show in Nashville and was a Dove Award nominee. Currently, Lou is host of Hill Country Gospel TV, co-host of Inside Gospel with J.P. Miller, and chronicles her travels with husband Howard in the U.S. Gospel News. A 20-year member of the GMA Board of Directors, she is also a strong supporter of the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame at Dollywood and is a member of the Texas Music Hall of Fame. The "Lou Hildreth Award," which recognizes excellence within the gospel music industry, is presented during the Diamond Awards at the National Quartet Convention.

The GMA Foundation (GMAF) is a non-profit educational association working in connection with the Gospel Music Association (GMA). The GMAF recognizes and preserves the history and legacy of all forms of gospel music and provides educational resources that encourage participation and appreciation by the general public. Founded in 1964, the 4,500-member GMA is dedicated to exposing, promoting and celebrating the gospel through music. The GMA represents all styles of gospel music including contemporary pop, rock, urban gospel, praise & worship, Southern gospel, country and children's gospel music. The GMA produces the GMA Music Awards, which recognizes achievement in all genres of gospel music and are voted on by members of the GMA.