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


Scott Goldfine

As a fervid lifelong music & film enthusiast / student, I grew up in and around the Los Angeles entertainment industry. I have worked and held many positions in various media realms, since 1998 serving as Editor-in-Chief and now Associate Publisher for Security Sales & Integration, a trade publication serving the electronic security industry. I love several genres of music & film. The former includes funk (Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Ohio Players, etc.); blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Eric Gales, etc.); rock (Jack White, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, etc.); hard rock (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.); jazz (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Crusaders, etc.); R&B (Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Gil Scott-Heron, etc.); and more. I was a club disc jockey and ran a mobile DJ company (Musical Moods) for more than 15 years, which is where the name Dr. GX originates (Doctor Good Times). Fave film genres include horror (Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.); science fiction (Aliens, Terminator, 2001, etc.); action (Warriors, Road Warrior, Die Hard); westerns (Outlaw Josey Wales, Showdown at OK Corral; Wild Bunch, etc.); suspense (Jaws, Inception, Silence of the Lambs, etc.); drama (Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, etc.); and comedies (Life of Brian, Superbad, Ruthless People, etc.). I have attended many hundreds of concerts and movies (in theaters or screenings). I may as well also throw in a few favorite TV shows to give an even broader taste of my sensibilities. A handful would be Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Lost, Justified, Fargo, Seinfeld, Sopranos, South Park, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Key & Peele, Monty Python, Inside Amy Schumer, Louie, Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Last Man on Earth, Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family and The Office. Fave authors are Stephen King, Clive Barker and Michael Crichton. I am also a big sports fan and lifelong supporter of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB). Also enjoy my family of course, electronics/computers/AV gear, and animals, nature and outdoor activities. Graduate of Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College and California State University Northridge (Radio-TV-Film, Psychology minor). Also studied at UCLA for kinesiology/psychology and earned post-grad Certificate in Accounting from Santa Monica College. Present main occupation is as Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Security Sales & Integration (SSI), which I joined in 1998. I am responsible for overseeing all editorial content in print. online, electronic, in-person and any other media or products for the electronic security industry's leading business-to-business trade publication. SSI is part of Framingham, Mass.-based Emerald Expositions.