Wednesday, April 19, 2017

R.I.P.: Motown Songwriter Sylvia Moy Was 78

Sylvia Moy
Sylvia Moy, a prolific Motown songwriter who is credited with energizing Stevie Wonder’s career with a string of early hits, has died at the age of 78, according to the LA Times.

Moy, who died Saturday at a hospital in Dearborn, Mich., was one of the few — and perhaps the first — female songwriters and producers at Motown Records in the early ’60s when the Detroit label was a virtual hit factory for emerging black artists.

Her skills as a songwriter were so apparent and the label’s need for new music so dire that record executives convinced her to put her own singing career on hold and focus on songwriting.

One of those artists was Wonder, who’d hit a slump after recording “Fingertips” as a 13-year-old phenom.

Working with songwriter Henry Cosby, Moy helped fix that by composing a string of now-familiar hits for Wonder — “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”, “My Cherie Amour”, “I Was Made to Love Her” and “Never Had a Dream Come True.”

When Moy was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006, Wonder made a surprise appearance at the ceremony to thank her.

Born Sept. 15, 1938, in Detroit, Moy was one of nine children and had an early interest in classical music and jazz. High school teachers encouraged her to attend singing auditions, and eventually she landed a job performing at the Caucus Club in Detroit, where Motown heavyweights Marvin Gaye and Mickey Stevenson reportedly saw her and lured her to the record label.

In addition to writing much of Wonder’s early song catalog, she wrote or co-wrote “This Old Heart of Mine” for the Isley Brothers (and later Rod Stewart), “My Baby Loves Me” for Martha and the Vandellas and “It Takes Two,” which was recorded by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston, and again by Stewart and Tina Turner.

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