Contact Us

Sylvia Moy, Motown Songwriter and Producer, Dies


Sylvia Moy, who was part of Motown’s famed staff of writers and producer during its ’60s heyday, has died. She was 78.

The news was reported by the Detroit Free Press, adding that the cause of death was complications from pneumonia. She died at the Beaumont (Oakwood) Hospital in Dearborn, Mich.

Born in Detroit on Sept. 15, 1938, she was discovered singing in a local nightclub by Marvin Gaye and songwriter Mickey Stevenson, who brought her to the label. She was signed to a deal that allowed her to perform as well as write, a rarity for a woman.

“She broke that glass ceiling for women in the music industry,” her brother Melvin told the Free Press. “In the ’60s, women weren’t encouraged to play instruments, let alone be producers.”

However, her recording career never got beyond the contract. Due to a short supply of songs for their artists, she was put to work immediately as a writer. At the time, Stevie Wonder was having a difficult time following up his first hit, “Fingertips,” and Motown was considering dropping the teenager, whose voice had just changed. Moy pleaded with the label for a chance to work with him, and, with Henry Cosby, the three of them wrote “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” which topped Billboard‘s R&B chart and peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100. Wonder, and Moy, never looked back.

Moy would be most closely associated with Wonder, co-writing “I Was Made to Love Her,” “Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day,” “My Cherie Amour” and “Never Had a Dream Come True.” But she was responsible for several other Motown hits, including the Isley Brothers‘ “This Old Heart of Mine” and the Marvin Gaye-Kim Weston duet, “It Takes Two.”

“Stevie gets an awful lot of credit, but as far as I’m concerned, she was the beginning of so many of those songs,” Cosby’s widow Pat said. “Between the three of them, Sylvia with her imaginative mind was just [groundbreaking]. If she were a man instead of a woman, there would have been a lot more you’d have heard from her. But once her work became known, the resistance waned away, and the producers started looking at her differently and could see the value of what she was trying to do.”

After leaving Motown, she went on to found the Center for Creative Communications, which works with underprivileged children in Detroit. She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006.

Rocker Deaths: Artists We Lost in 2017

Next: Top 10 Detroit Bands

Recommended For You

Around the Web

Best of Diffuser

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Please solve this simple math problem to prove that you are a real person.

Sign up for quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!