Syreeta / Aug 3, 1946 - July 6, 2004

Happy birthday to the great Syreeta Wright, singer/songwriter and partner & collaborator with Stevie Wonder. Born in Pittsburgh, she moved to Detroit as a teenager. She danced ballet and sang in groups before getting a job at Motown in '65, starting as secretary and back-up singer. She made her first record, "I Can't Give Back The Love I Feel For You" (as Rita Wright), in '67.

She started going out with her future husband Stevie Wonder in '68 and they started collaborating on songwriting, hitting first with "It's A Shame" for the Spinners in '69. After singing on Supremes demos, as well as back-up vocals on the singles, she nearly replaced Diana Ross in 1970. That year she married Stevie and they continued their collaborations with tunes like "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" and "If You Really Loved Me". They wrote the songs for Music Of My Mind and Syreeta decided to re-launch her own singing career.

Despite divorcing in '72, the pair still collaborated together. Stevie produced her first album and they remained friends and continued working together. Syreeta also collaborated in '77 with ex-Spinner G.C. Cameron, in '79 with Billy Preston, with Jermaine Jackson in '83 and with Smokey Robinson in '85. After some more recording and stage acting, she retired in the mid '90s to focus on family and converted to Islam. She died of cancer in 2004.

Tagged: Celebrate Icons, Motown, soul!, soul/funk, Stevie Wonder, Syreeta

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