Songs in the Key of Life

Songs in the Key of Life
Songs in the key of life.jpg
Studio album by Stevie Wonder
ReleasedSeptember 28, 1976 (1976-09-28)
StudioCrystal Sound, Hollywood; Record Plant Los Angeles; Record Plant Sausalito; The Hit Factory, New York City
ProducerStevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder chronology
Fulfillingness' First Finale
(1974)Fulfillingness' First Finale1974
Songs in the Key of Life
Looking Back – Anthology
(1977)Looking Back – Anthology1977
Singles from Songs in the Key of Life
  1. "I Wish"
    Released: December 1976
  2. "Isn't She Lovely"
    Released: February 1977 (non-US single)
  3. "Sir Duke"
    Released: March 1977
  4. "Another Star"
    Released: August 1977
  5. "As"
    Released: October 1977

Songs in the Key of Life is the eighteenth album by American recording artist Stevie Wonder, released on September 28, 1976, by Motown Records, through its division Tamla Records. It was the culmination of his "classic period" albums.[2] The album was recorded primarily at Crystal Sound studio in Hollywood, with some sessions recorded at the Record Plant in Hollywood, the Record Plant in Sausalito, and The Hit Factory in New York City. Final mixing was performed at Crystal Sound.[3]

An ambitious double LP with a four-song bonus EP,[4] Songs in the Key of Life became the best-selling and most critically acclaimed album of Wonder's career. In 2003, it was ranked number 57 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2005, it was inducted into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, which deemed it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."


By 1976, Stevie Wonder had become one of the most popular figures in R&B and pop music, not only in the U.S., but worldwide. Within a short space of time, the albums Talking Book, Innervisions and Fulfillingness' First Finale were all back-to-back top five successes, with the latter two winning Grammy Award for Album of the Year, in 1974 and 1975, respectively. By the end of 1975, Wonder became serious about quitting the music industry and emigrating to Ghana to work with handicapped children. He had expressed his anger with the way that the U.S. government was running the country.[5][6] A farewell concert was being considered as the best way to bring down the curtain on his career. Wonder changed his decision, when he signed a new contract with Motown on August 5, 1975, thinking he was better off making the most of his career. At the time, rivals such as Arista and Epic were also interested in him. The contract was laid out as a seven-year, seven LP, $37 million deal ($168,273,346 in 2017 dollars[7]) and gave him full artistic control, making this the largest deal made with a recording star up to that point.[5] Almost at the beginning Wonder took a year off from the music market, with a project for a double album to be released in 1976.[8]

There was huge anticipation for the new album which was initially scheduled for release around October 1975. It was delayed on short notice when Wonder felt that further remixing was essential. According to Wonder, the marketing campaign at Motown decided to take advantage of the delay by producing "We're almost finished" T-shirts.[9] Work on the new album continued into early 1976. A name was finally chosen for the album: Songs in the Key of Life. The title would represent the formula of a complex "key of life" and the proposals for indefinite success.[10]

The album was released on September 28, 1976, after a two-year wait as a double LP album with a four-track seven-inch EP titled A Something's Extra ("Saturn", "Ebony Eyes", "All Day Sucker" and "Easy Goin' Evening (My Mama's Call)") and a 24-page lyric and credit booklet.[9][11] The EP is noteworthy for two reasons A) it's recorded at the same 33 RPM speed as the album but B) U.S. releases of the album feature the disc with a large 45-style hole in the middle. European, Asian and Southern Hempisphere editions feature the disc with the normal small hole.