Sandra Hawkins

Sandra Hawkins sings for residents on Valentine’s Day at the Rosewood Retirement Community in Harker Heights, shortly before heading to New Orleans to audition for “America’s Got Talent.”

Sandra Hawkins warmed up her vocal chords in front of the elderly men and women at the Rosewood Retirement Community on Valentine’s Day before the afternoon performance began.

The show served two purposes for Hawkins — it allowed her to bring some joy to Rosewood residents and prepared her for an audition for the NBC reality competition, “America’s Got Talent” in New Orleans this week. Hawkins is an international gospel recording artist and the CEO and president of Jesus Christ 1st Records in Killeen.

“I’m going to be bold enough to sing ‘America the Beautiful,’ and revise it and turn it around and make it mine,” she said about the audition.

This is Hawkins’ second trip to The Big Easy to audition for the show. In 2010, Hawkins performed with her late husband, Ronnie, in a musical group called Ron Hawkins & HBF Gospel Singers.

Although her husband died that same year, his death left Hawkins with the strength to continue God’s work and perform as the couple had been doing for years, she said.

“It started some 20-odd years ago when I first met my husband who was a big time doo wop artist,” she said. “I’m just trying to carry on his legacy.”

Hawkins is set to release her new CD this summer and perform in the Bahamas, but she has some fears about getting on stage before the “America’s Got Talent” judges, including Executive Producer Simon Cowell. No matter the outcome, Hawkins said she remains focused on her passion of singing around the world in her husband’s honor.

She also hopes to one day receive a Grammy.

“I want to help as many people as I can by reaching out and getting the ministry out there,” she said.

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