TIR 46: Session Singing Star Jim Gilstrap Looks Back With Wonder


Jim Gilstrap (left) got his big break singing with Stevie Wonder’s Wonderlove backing band, and along with then girlfriend Lani Groves sang the opening to the classic “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” The trio reunited on a recent Wonder performance shown here.


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 46 (two segments): Jim Gilstrap, quite possibly the most recorded singer of the past 50 years. A Vietnam veteran and formally trained musician, Gilstrap got his big break when Stevie Wonder picked him up as a member of his early 1970s band Wonderlove.

He sang on several Wonder albums, most notably the lead male vocal heard at the beginning of the timeless classic “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” From there, he had similar good fortune with Quincy Jones, not only singing on Q’s albums but also his stable of productions including the Brothers Johnson, George Benson and Michael Jackson. Gilstrap also recorded a pair of albums of his own in the mid-1970s and notched a pair of top 20 R&B hits, including “Swing Your Daddy.”

Also in demand for movies and TV shows, including the theme to “Good Times,” he would go on to lend his voice to a who’s who of popular music that included Boz Scaggs; Donald Byrd & the Blackbyrds; Harvey Mason; Narada Michael Walden; Billy Cobham; Stanley Clarke; George Duke; George Benson; Patrice Rushen; Bill Withers; Herbie Hancock; Aretha Franklin; Gladys Knight; Patti Austin; Anita baker; Barbra Streisand; Linda Rondstadt; Roberta Flack; and many others across varied musical genres.

Here sitting at the piano in his Los Angeles-based home studio, the warm and engaging Gilstrap reflects on his truly legendary career, touches on many highlights and special memories, and discusses the craft of singing and music making.

Recorded March 2018