Dixie Cups Singer Rosa Hawkins of ‘Chapel of Love’ and ‘Iko Iko’ Fame Dead at 76
Rosa Lee Hawkins, one of the three original singers in the New Orleans rhythm and blues group The Dixie Cups, died on Tuesday in Tampa, Florida. She was 76 years old.
Her older sister and Dixie Cup singing partner Barbara Hawkins confirmed that Rosa died due to internal bleeding and other complications following a surgical procedure last week.
The Dixie Cups were made up of Rosa Hawkins, her sister Barbara Hawkins and their cousin, Joan Marie Johnson.
Of course, the trio were best known for their 1964 No. 1 hit "Chapel of Love" along with the 1965 song "Iko Iko," which is synonymous with Mardi Gras. The latter was based on a traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian chant the women had heard since childhood.
Some of their other hits included "People Say," "You Should Have Seen the Way He Looked at Me" and "Little Bell."
The group of three went on hiatus in 1966. The Hawkins sisters moved to New York in 1974 to pursue modeling careers. Johnson would retire from the group and she was replaced over the years by different "third members."
Joan Johnson died in New Orleans of congestive heart failure on October 3, 2016 at the age of 72.
Following Hurricane Katrina, Rosa and Barbara relocated to Tampa, Florida, where Rosa's son lived. The sisters, neither of whom ever married, were roommates.
In 2017, The Dixie Cups were inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame for their contributions to Louisiana music.
The Dixie Cups have still been actively playing shows in recent years, however, they have not performed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. They were scheduled to appear at the French Quarter Festival and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival this spring.
Barbara said that she and Athelgra Neville (who is a current member of the group) plan to honor those commitments, as Rosa would have wanted.
In addition to her sister Barbara, Rosa leaves behind a son, Eric Blanc, and two grandsons, Eric Jr. and Kendall Blanc.
Arrangements for a memorial service are pending.
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