I'm not a huge fan of Stevie Wonder, but I always liked the song "Uptight." I never noticed until now, however, the irony of the phrase, "out of sight."
From Ms. Moy's obit in the Times (my emphasis):
Sylvia Moy’s arrival at Motown in 1964 coincided with the company’s concerns about the future of Mr. Wonder’s career. A year earlier, “Fingertips Pt. 2,” a mostly instrumental number that showcased the 13-year-old prodigy’s virtuosity on the harmonica, reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and R&B charts.
But his subsequent recordings were not as successful, and Motown executives were uncertain what to do with him as he grew into adulthood.
“There was an announcement in a meeting that Stevie’s voice had changed, and they didn’t know exactly how to handle that,” Ms. Moy said in an interview after her induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006. “They asked for volunteers. None of the guys would volunteer. They were going to have to let him go.”
Whether Berry Gordy Jr., Motown’s founder and patriarch, would have released an artist as talented as Mr. Wonder is debatable. But Mr. Gordy did not have to make the decision. After the meeting, Ms. Moy beseeched Mickey Stevenson, the head of artists and repertoire at Motown, to give her a chance to work with Mr. Wonder.
“Let this be my assignment,” she said she told Mr. Stevenson. “I don’t believe it’s over for him. Let me have Stevie.”
She said that she asked Mr. Wonder to play some of the “ditties” he had been working on, but she heard nothing that sounded like a hit. Then, as she was leaving, he played one final snippet of music for her and sang, “Baby, everything is all right.” There wasn’t much more, she recalled, and she told him that she would take it home and work on the melody and lyrics.
With the songwriting help of Henry Cosby, a Motown producer, “Uptight” was completed.
In the recording studio, though, there was no transcription of the lyrics into Braille for Mr. Wonder to read from. So Ms. Moy sang the words to him through his earphones.
“I would stay a line ahead of him and we didn’t miss a beat,” she said in a video interview in 2014 with Michelle Wilson, an independent producer based in Virginia Beach.
“Uptight” topped the R&B chart and rose to No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100. It also led to further work for Ms. Moy with Mr. Wonder and Mr. Cosby on songs like “My Cherie Amour” (1969), “Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby” (1966) and “I Was Made to Love Her” (1967), which included Mr. Wonder’s mother, Lula Mae Hardaway, as a co-writer. Ms. Moy said that Mr. Wonder’s title for “My Cherie Amour” had been “Oh, My Marcia,” but she gave it a French twist.
After high school, Ms. Moy traveled to New York City to promote her songs but found no takers. One rejection from a record company executive stuck to her for decades. “You’re not a bad singer, but I want to give you some advice you can use for the rest of your life,” she recalled him telling her, “You will never be a songwriter.”
(Years later, she said, the same executive asked Mr. Gordy if he could buy out her songwriting contract at Motown.)