Stevie Wonder's first marriage lasted only 18 months, but it inspired a song that's now as familiar at weddings as cake and champagne: "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," which reached No. 1 exactly 44 years ago today, on May 19, 1973.
The musical whiz long known as Little Stevie Wonder met Syreeta Wright, a former Motown secretary and aspiring singer-songwriter, in 1968, when he was 18 and she was 22. The first song they wrote together, "It's a Shame," was a Top 20 hit for the Spinners in 1969. Wright also co-wrote and contributed background vocals to Wonder's Top 10 hits "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours" in 1970, the year they married, and 1971's "If You Really Love Me."
Wonder's ode to their love, "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," became his second No. 1 hit, duplicating the success of "Superstition," the first single from his "Talking Book" album. "Sunshine" also earned Wonder the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a male.
By then, however, the couple was divorced. Wright, who taught transcendental meditation, continued pursuing a solo career as Syreeta, scoring another Top 10 hit when her duet with Billy Preston, "With You I'm Born Again," peaked at No. 4 in 1979.
But her sunshine with Wonder never completely dimmed. The two reportedly remained friends for the rest of Wright's life. She was 57 when she died of congestive heart failure in 2004 after a long battle with breast and bone cancer.
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