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‘You Are The Sunshine Of My Life’: Stevie Wonder’s Romantic Classic

The romantic second single from his 1972 masterpiece was nominated for three Grammy Awards. 

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Stevie Wonder - Photo: David Redfern/Redferns
Photo: David Redfern/Redferns

On May 19, 1973, Stevie Wonder’s 14th pop Top 10 hit in the US became his third No.1. “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” completed its two-month climb to the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

The second single released from his 1972 masterpiece Talking Book, the highly romantic song was nominated for no fewer than three Grammy Awards, and won one, for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. The album had the multi-instrumental genius in some of the hottest chart form of his life, making two pop chart-toppers in a row: the new single was the follow-up to the stunning “Superstition.”

You Are The Sunshine Of My Life

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“Sunshine” also makes for an interesting trivia quiz question, in which you are asked to name the two vocalists who appear on the track before Stevie Wonder himself does. The answer is that Jim Gilstrap takes the first two lines, Lani Groves the second two, and then Wonder takes over. Gilstrap became best known for his 1975 solo hit “Swing Your Daddy.”

Spreading the sunshine

The song additionally reached No.1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, Wonder’s first winner on that countdown. It made the Top 10 in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, spending two weeks at No.7 in the UK in June 1973.

Scott Edwards, who played bass on “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life,” made at Electric Lady Studios in New York, told the Songfacts website that Stevie “had been working with the structure by himself. But once he had all of us together, he just started playing it.

‘He made it all sound so easy’

“And then we all joined in and we all could feel that the vibe and the way the tune was going, it was a hit,” said Edwards. “He was so excited, he said, ‘Tonight we’re going to the studio and record it.’ And that’s what we did. As usual, Wonder made it all sound so easy.”

Listen to the Best Motown Songs Ever playlist.

Hundreds of artists went on to cover the song, hoping of course to bask in some of Stevie’s “Sunshine.” Liza Minnelli was first out of the blocks, closely followed by Johnny Mathis, Brenda Lee, Andy Williams, and, in 1974, Frank Sinatra.

Buy or stream “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” on Talking Book.

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