Sylvia Moy (1938 - 2017)

Sylvia Moy, the creative Motown songwriter who brought Stevie Wonder hits at a time when he needed them the most, died Saturday, April 15, 2017, of complications of pneumonia in Dearborn, Michigan, according to multiple news sources. She was 78.

Moy was the first female songwriter and producer for recording artists at the Detroit-based Motown Records group.


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Sylvia Rose Moy was born Sept. 15, 1938, on Detroit's northeast side. In 1963, the legendary singer Marvin Gaye and songwriter Mickey Stevenson spotted Moy performing at a nightclub. She soon was hired at Motown to record and produce records, but the label needed songs for its ever-growing stable of artists, so she honed in on that task.

Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. credited Moy with persuading the label not to drop Little Stevie Wonder, whose voice was changing as he went through puberty. In Gordy's autobiography, "To Be Loved," he told Moy he'd keep Wonder in the Motown fold if she'd come up with a hit song for the young artist.

That song was "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," which Moy co-wrote with Henry Cosby and Wonder. Moy didn't know how to write a song in braille, so she sang her lyrics into his headphones a line at a time during the recording process.

The song proved a success in early 1966, peaking at No. 3 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart. "Uptight" also shot to No. 1 on the magazine's R&B Singles chart and stayed there for five weeks.

Moy went on to write and/or produce more Wonder hits including "My Cherie Amour," "I Was Made To Love Her," and "Never Had a Dream Come True." She also co-wrote hits for other artists including the Isley Brothers, Gaye, Kim Weston, and Michael Jackson.

Wonder paid tribute to his collaborator earlier this week in a statement to Rolling Stone magazine:

“How do you stop loving the ones you loved for a lifetime — you don’t! Sylvia Moy made it possible to enrich my world of songs with some of the greatest lyrics," said Wonder, "but not only that, she, through her participation and our co-writing those songs, helped me become a far better writer of lyrics.

"Even in these later years, I longed for us to collaborate again, yet who am I to fight with the Most High in His decision to making her one of his angels of song for eternity," Wonder continued. "Maybe someday in eternity, at its given time and space, we will write together again. I love you, Sylvia."

In 2006, Moy was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame along with Cosby.

In Detroit, Moy was known for her philanthropic work. She organized the Center for Creative Communications that works with underprivileged children in the Motor City.

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