Stevie Wonder and Syreeta: Remembering Their "Harmour Love"

Syreeta and Stevie Wonder in 1970
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On Sept. 14, 1970, Motown superstar Stevie Wonder married one of the label's most underrated performers: a 24-year-old singer named Syreeta Wright. Though their marriage would only last two years, she'd become one of the adult Stevie's most significant collaborators.

Wright, born in Pittsburgh, had been part of the Motown roster for several years, at one point seriously considered to replace Diana Ross once she exited The Supremes. Her greatest success would come with Wonder, whom she'd dated since 1968. While Berry Gordy couldn't find the right groove for her at Motown, Wonder encouraged her talents; the same year they married, they co-wrote the song "It's a Shame," a big hit for The Spinners.

Wright became a key member of Wonder's backing vocal group Wonderlove - they're heard prominently on "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" - and also co-wrote every song on Where I'm Coming From. That album, issued in 1971, anticipated Stevie's formal coming-out as an adult performer while proving he'd lost no steps as a hitmaker, with the duo's "If You Really Love Me" becoming Wonder's 12th career Top 10.

READ MORE: June 1970: Stevie Wonder Releases "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours"

By 1972, the 21-year-old Wonder had signed a new contract with Motown guaranteeing him higher royalties than most; that commercial and creative high was tempered with the news that he and Wright would divorce that same year. But their collaborations - and his faith in her as a singer - never ended. Her solo debut Syreeta, featuring arresting covers of Wonder's own "I Love Every Little Thing About You" and The Beatles' "She's Leaving Home," was produced by her ex-husband, as was 1974 follow-up Stevie Wonder Presents: Syreeta, which featured the U.K. Top 20 hit "Your Kiss is Sweet."

The duo's collaborations got fewer and further between afterward, although Syreeta made an appearance on nearly every one of Wonder's classic albums through 1980, and he wrote one more killer song for her: the light pop gem "Harmour Love." Wright finally found chart success as a duet partner with Billy Preston and remained a presence in the recording industry (perhaps most notably as a touring cast member of Jesus Christ Superstar in the mid-'90s) before succumbing to complications from cancer in 2004.

READ MORE: Everybody Likes Some Kind of Music: Billy Preston's Best

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