Sylvia Moy, Motown’s gem and longtime Stevie Wonder collaborator, has passed at the age of 78.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the songwriter and producer died Saturday night at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn, due to complications of pneumonia.
As a Detroit native and Motown’s first female producer, Moy led the charge in breaking barriers when it came to ideals of women having the skill and ability to produce in the music industry. In fact, she defied the stereotype multiple times over and was a contributing mastermind behind Stevie Wonder jams, such as the beautifully melodic “My Cherie Amour” and 1965s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright).” The upbeat track would score Wonder his second Top 10 hit.
In a 2016 interview with the Free Press, Moy broke down her Motown beginnings.
“Motown came forth with a recording contract for me, a management contract and a songwriter’s contract — which shocked me. Then I was told, ‘Sylvia, we’ll get to you as a singer. But in the meantime, we’ve got all these artists and they have no material. You’re going to have to write.’I said OK. Because I was kind of shy anyway. And so that’s what I started doing. I got into it, and the hits started coming.”
Her gifted pen and vision also worked alongside Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston for their duet, “It Takes Two”; The Isley Brothers, “This Old Heart of Mine” and “I Was Made to Love Her”, and Hank Cosby.
“She broke that glass ceiling for women in the music industry,” said her brother Melvin Moy. “In the ’60s, women weren’t encouraged to play instruments, let alone be producers.”
In the below clip, Moy talks with reporter and producer Michelle Wilson about the need for more women to get involved in the music industry as writers and producers.
Rest in Peace and Power, Sylvia Moy.