There is an album by the Edwin Hawkins singers with songs that resonate through the channels of my mind. I don't think of the songs often, but when I reminisce about the late eighties and early nineties, when my family primarily listened to gospel music, certain songs clearly reverberate in the most comforting way though it's been close to twenty years since hearing them. One song in particular I only remembered the ending, which quotes the scripture Isaiah 53: ...he was wounded for our transgression (our trans-gres-sion), and he was bruised for our iniquity (our in-niq-qui-teee-eee), the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we were healed (yeah, yeahhh yeah yeah!)... That part stuck with me. I can't recall any of the other lyrics, but that part of the vamp at the end of the song had wedged itself into my memory bank, occasionally playing out, over and over again. ...he was wounded for our transgressions (our trans-gres-sions!)...
Well, tonight merely reminiscing about the song wasn't enough. I wanted to hear the song. Needed to hear THAT song. But I only had somewhat of a clue that it was by one of the iconic Hawkins' (Edwin, Walter or Tramaine), and even still, I was too young to really know whose song it really was. It seems, I remember, that there were both a man and a woman singing, which meant that it was either Edwin or Walter AND Tramaine.. Unless of course it was a choir singing, for which maybe it wouldn't necessarily be Tramaine. But I was going to give her the benefit of the doubt and figure it was her plus one of the brothers. Now, which one would it have been? She was married to one, but sang with both.... I could already tell this was going to be a humdinger of album to uncover.
Naturally, I started with the lyrics; anytime I'm looking to uncover a song I don't know the title of, I type in a few of the lyrics and the possible artist in a search to see what comes up. Unfortunately for me, typing in lyrics that are from a scripture in the Bible just yields the verse. I tried adding "Hawkins" then "Edwin" then "Tramaine Hawkins" etc etc et ce tera. And the song would not come up by the lyrics. Every OTHER Edwin and Walter Hawkins song, however, did. Goin Up Yonder. Oh Happy Day. Trymaine's The Potter's House. But nothing with "...he was wounded for our transgressions (our trans-gres-sions!)..." So I got to thinking, "Maybe, just maybe it's not a Hawkins song at all..." So I took a minute to search names like Andrae Crouch, but I knew it was Hawkins, whichever one it turned out to be. So I kept looking. Singing the song in my heart, and seeking it out.
"...he was wounded for our transgressions (our trans-gres-sions!)...he was bruised for our iniquities (our in-niq-qui-teee-eee).." I wanted to hear THAT song. It had to be catalogued somewhere on this internet. I went to Amazon, Itunes, yahoo music... found a link that had lyrics similar to what I remembered and was labeled as Tramaine Hawkins' "By His Stripes" (though the same link at the bottom said "By His Strength") so SURELY this was what I was looking for! I searched out more of Tramaine Hawkins "By His Stripes/Strength", only to find there wasn't any other representation of that song BUT that first link, and the link itself was suspect. So, nope. I had not found the song. Yet.
Then finally. Some kind of way, it dawned on me to search the actual scripture that the lyrics came from, as the title. SEARCH: Isaiah 53, Hawkins singer. AND Lo! up came my first link indicating that my memory was not making stuff up!!! EDWIN HAWKINS & THE MUSIC & ARTS SEMINAR MASS CHOIR. Who freakin' knew??? I surely didn't. ALL I knew was
...he was wounded for our transgression (our trans-gres-sion), and he was bruised for our iniquity (our in-niq-qui-teee-eee), the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we were healed (yeah, yeahhh yeah yeah!)... And finally, some semblance of what I'd spent the last few hours trying to uncover.
Hot on the trail, I stayed with my search to uncover an actual recording of the song entitled Isaiah 53 by Edwin Hawkins and the Music & Arts Seminar Mass Choir. Then finally, I found a blog called The Gospel Fill-Up with a posting of the exact album that I had tucked away under a flap in my mind: Live In Atlanta (1983) Giddy with excitement to realize that I was staring at the exact album I needed to hear, I left a comment to the blogger thanking them for posting the album and asking if there is any way I'd be able to get a copy of it (as it turns out, this seems to be a rare recording not easily attainable.) Hopefully, someone will get back to me with the hookup on this rarity!
So, on I searched, thinking maybe, just maybe there'd be some way for me to hear the song I was looking for. And one last search yielded the contentment I was in need of. Youtube. For the record, I'd actually started at youtube, but with the wrong names of titles and the artist, I just could not track it down. But now. NOW, I had exactly what I was looking for to hear this:
I closed my eyes when the music began, and Edwin started speaking. It'd been so long since I'd actually heard the recording, I wasn't sure just yet that this was it. But as the song played on, the changes in the music began to hit home. The voices distinctly matched those in my memory. And about three minutes in, THE PART finally came: ...he was wounded for our transgression (our trans-gres-sion), and he was bruised for our iniquity (our in-niq-qui-teee-eee), the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we were healed (yeah, yeahhh yeah yeah!)... And I was eleven years old again, in the back of my father's Aerostar minivan, laying on the extended row in the back, while on a roadtrip to Texas... listening to Edwin Hawkins.... I'm so glad I found this.