Born Tramaine Davis in San Francisco and raised in Berkeley, Tramaine Hawkins is the granddaughter of Bishop E.E. Cleveland, one of the founders of the Church of God in Christ Church, the largest Black Pentecostal organization in the U.S. She got her start as a teenager in 1968 performing with the Edwin Hawkins Singers during the homemade recording session that produced the crossover smash "Oh Happy Day," the biggest-selling gospel single to date. In the early '70s, she married Walter Hawkins, Edwin's brother, who went on to lead the Love Center Ministries. There she sang lead soprano with her husband's Love Center Choir and appeared on the Love Alive album, a recorded Sunday session featuring her husband's sermon, Edwin on piano, and Hawkins on lead vocals. It and its follow-up, Love Alive II, were both best-sellers.