RELEASE DATE

28 OCTOBER 1972

ALBUM

LABEL

TAMLA / MOTOWN

BILLBOARD HOT 100

#1

UK SINGLES CHART

#7

BILLBOARD ADULT CONTEMPORARY

#1

ROLLING STONE'S " THE 500 GREATEST SONGS OF ALL TIME" (2024)

#183

WRITERS

STEVIE WONDER

PRODUCER

STEVIE WONDER

DRUMS, FENDER RHODES

STEVIE WONDER

BASS

SCOTT EDWARDS

CONGAS

DANIEL BEN ZEBULON

BACKUP VOCALISTS

GLORIA BARLEY, JIM GILSTRAP & LANI GROVES

STUDIO

ELECTRIC LADY STUDIOS (NYC)

TRIVIA

  • In March of 1973, this song was issued as the second and final single from Stevie’s 15th studio album, Talking Book.  On the B-side of the single release was Tuesday Heartbreak.
  • You Are the Sunshine of My Life marked the third time Stevie Wonder topped the Billboard Hot 100.  The previous were Fingertips – Part 2 (1963) and Superstition (1972), the latter of which is also from Talking Book.
  • This song marked the first time Stevie topped Billboard’s US Adult Contemporary chart (which back then was known as Hot Adult Contemporary).  Also, it peaked at number 3 on Billboard’s Best Selling Soul Singles (aka Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs) list.
  • This track also reached number 1 on the Cashbox Top 100.
  • You Are the Sunshine of My Life was a top 10 hit in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.  In the latter country, it was certified Silver by the BPI in 2022.
  • This song represents one of the very first Grammys Stevie ever won.  It bested the category of Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male (aka Best Male Pop Vocal Performance) in 1974.  It was also nominated for Song of the Year, as well as Record of the Year.
  • That year, during the 16th Annual Grammy Awards, Stevie took home four trophies total.  
  • You Are the Sunshine of My Life was eventually inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, in 2002.
  • This song was written while Stevie was in the process of recording Music of My Mind (1972).  However, he decided to save You Are the Sunshine of My Life for his next studio album, Talking Book, of which this track served as the lead single.
  • Stevie Wonder and co. recorded this song, during an impromptu session, inside New York City’s Electric Lady Studios.  That same night they laid down Superstition, the lead single from Talking Book.
  • This love song was written while Stevie was married to his first wife, Syreeta Wright.
  • This is one of the few non-collaborative Stevie Wonder tracks that noticeably features additional vocalists.  The vocals are led off by Jim Gilstrap, followed by Lani Groves, before Stevie takes over.
  • A live version of this song makes an appearance on Stevie’s 1995 outing, Natural Wonder.  That version of You Are the Sunshine of My Life is vocally backed by Keith John, Panzie Johnson and Marva King.
  • As noted by uDiscoverMusic, “hundreds of artists went on to cover (this) song”.  A few notable names on that list include Liza Minelli (1973), Grover Washington Jr. (1973), Hugo Montenegro (1974), Frank Sinatra (1974), Macy Gray (2012) and the cast of Glee (2013).
  • In 1999, Stevie Wonder was the recipient of the Polar Music Prize, an award originating from Sweden.  During that ceremony, which was held at Berwald Hall in Stockholm, Wonder performed You Are the Sunshine of My Life.
  • In 2011, PBS organized a special titled The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House.  The event, which was held at the administrative center of the US government, was hosted by President Barack Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama.  Also in attendance was Joe and Jill Biden, who are President and First Lady of the United States as of this writing.  During that star-studded program, Stevie treated the audience to a rendition of You Are the Sunshine of My Life.
  • In the 2005 movie Jarhead, Jamie Foxx references this song.  Then, Jake Gyllenhaal proceeds to perform You Are the Sunshine of My Life, in a somewhat-comedic manner.
  • Ella Fitzgerald, the “Queen of Jazz”, performed this song live with Stevie Wonder, in 1977, in New Orleans.  That collaboration apparently proceeded to be featured on her posthumous tribute album, We All Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song (2007).

SOURCES

“You Are the Sunshine of My Life”.  Wikipedia.  Last edited on 14 May 2024.

“Talking Book”.  Wikipedia.  Last edited on 13 May 2024.

“500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.  Rolling Stone.  16 February 2024.

“Stevie Wonder – You Are the Sunshine of My Life Lyrics”.  Genius.  Accessed on 2 June 2024.

“Stevie Wonder, You Are the Sunshine of My Life”.  BPI.  Accessed on 29 March 2024.

“GRAMMY Hall of Fame Award”.  Grammy.com.  Accessed on 2 June 2024.

“Stevie Wonder – You Are the Sunshine of My Life (Live/1995) Lyrics”.  Genius.  Accessed on 2 June 2024.

“YOU ARE THE SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE by Stevie Wonder”.  Songfacts.  Accessed on 2 June 2024.

Paul Sexton.  “‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life’: Stevie Wonder’s Romantic Classic”.  uDiscoverMusic.  19 May 2024.

“Stevie Wonder”.  Polar Music Prize.  Accessed on 2 June 2024.  

Kori Schulman.  “Behind-the-Scenes Video: The Motown Sound At The White House”.  The White House President Barack Obama.  1 March 2011.

“The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House”.  WETA.  16 February 2011.

Stevie Wonder.  “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life”.  YouTube.  30 October 2018.

johnniewalker23.  “Stevie Wonder – You Are the Sunshine of My Life (Live)”.  YouTube.  4 August 2008.

rhythmn.  “Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder – You are the Sunshine of my Life (live,1977)”.  YouTube.  14 December 2016.

Polar Music Prize.  “You Are The Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder”.  YouTube.  26 March 2013.

Harry Varthakouris.  “You Are the Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder (Live @ the White House)”.  YouTube.  30 March 2011. 

You Are the Sunshine of My Life by Stevie Wonder (1972)

You Are the Sunshine of My Life (live “Natural Wonder” version, 1995)

You Are the Sunshine of My Life by Stevie Wonder & Ella Fitzgerald (live, 1977)

You Are the Sunshine of My Life @ Polar Music Prize (1999)

You Are the Sunshine of My Life @ the White House (2011)