50 years ago, Stevie Wonder went out on a limb to release one of the greatest songs of his career, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours."
By 1970, the Motown star sought to assert more creative freedom in his work, so he linked up with songwriters Michael McDonald, Syreeta Wright (who would become his first wife), Lee Garrett, and his mother Lula Mae Hardaway to pen the song.
Garrett, a close friend and disc jockey, had already sat in the co-writing chair with Wonder before to write Jermaine Jackson's "Let's Get Serious," and "the Spinners' "It's A Shame." On his own front, Garrett would score a UK Top 20 hit with the nostalgic pop-centered "You're My Everything."
Wright's chemistry would Wonder would prove more than musical, as the two tied the knot just weeks after their collaboration "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" premiered. Wonder's mother, Hardaway, scored her own co-writing credits on the song when she dropped the single's title phrase to Wonder while he was working on the song's melody, according to a 2008 BBC interview on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.
As Wonder toyed with a diverse range of instruments on the song, including an electric sitar and energetic brass section, he claimed greater control of the song's creative process and earned himself his first production credit with the single.
By the summer of 1970, Wonder would proudly unveil the single, which would ascend to No. 1 on the R&B chart for a six-week reign and No. 3 on the Pop chart. With this first solo production, Wonder would fly away from the musical cocoon of his childhood career and look beyond the Motown mold to achieve true artistic freedom.
The song, which sold over a million copies, would become his first to earn two Grammy nominations. Over the next decade, Wonder would continue to run towards exciting new directions fearlessly.