By Susan Johnes
Sylvia Moy, a prolific Motown songwriter, has died at the age of 78. The woman is credited with energizing Stevie Wonder’s career with a string of early hits.
Moy died Saturday at a hospital in Dearborn, Mich with pneumonia complications according to her sister.
She was one of the few and perhaps the first female song-writers and producers at Motown Records in the early ’60s. At that time, the Detroit label was a virtual hit factory for emerging Black artists.
Sylvia Moy collaborated with Stevie Wonder on “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” and “My Cherie Amour.” Besides, she was a co-writer of hits for the Marvin Gaye-Kim Weston duet and the Isley Brothers.
In the recording studio, though, there was no transcription of the lyrics into Braille for Mr. Wonder. Therefore, Mrs. Moy sang the words to him through his earphones and indeed brought a fresh musical approach, discipline and a rapport that produced songs of a high caliber.
In her childhood age, Moy used to play the piano on the radiator and made musical instruments out of food boxes which were her inspirations to love the music.
After high school, Ms. Moy traveled to New York City to promote her songs but unfortunately found no takers.
One rejection had stuck in her mind for decades from a record company executive. “You are not a bad singer, but I want to give you some advice in which you can use for the rest of your life: you will never be a songwriter.”
Moy returned home to Detroit feeling frustrated and hopeless. However, she sang at the Caucus Club, where Mr. Gaye and Mr. Stevenson invited her to Motown. As expected, she was signed to recording, management and songwriter contracts.