Ten Songs That Celebrate Motherhood

Just in time for Mother’s Day, here are some songs that honor the mothers in our lives.

One of the most important dates on the calendar is Mother’s Day. Created by Anna Jarvis in 1908, Mother's Day became an official U.S. holiday in 1914.

Since the holiday's inception, mothers have been honored for their immense contributions to their families, communities, and society.

In the world of music, many timeless songs have been created to pay tribute to motherhood. Some of the most memorable songs in Black culture have been dedicated to mothers for their sacrifice and care for their children and children they claimed by love.

To update your playlist in time for Mother's Day, here are 10 Songs That Celebrate Motherhood.

I’ll Always Love My Momma- The Intruders, 1973

The gold standard for songs of motherhood is unquestionably The Intruder’s classic “I’ll Always Love My Momma.” Written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, along with co-writers Gene McFadden and John Whitehead, it was released in 1973 as an ode to the mothers who sacrificed so much for their children. Inspired by Gamble’s mother, Ruby, The Intruder’s vocal performance made it a staple in the Black Community on Mother’s Day and beyond. Although it was a moderate hit on the pop charts, peaking at 36, the song remains the blueprint for other songs that honor motherhood.

Sadie- The Spinners, 1974

Another tribute to motherhood, The Spinner’s “Sadie” is an all-time classic. Written and produced by Joseph B. Jefferson, Bruce Hawes, and Charles Simmons, it was released in 1974 on their New and Improved "Sadie" would chart at number #7 on the U.S. R&B Singles Chart and reach number #54 position on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart. Anchored by Phillipe Wynne’s heartfelt lead vocal, “Sadie” is still one of the finest musical tributes to motherhood almost 50 years later.

You Are My Friend- Patti LaBelle, 1978

On her first solo album, Patti LaBelle gave the world a classic with “You Are My Friend” in 1978. Written by Labelle and her then-husband Armstead Edwards to a composition by James "Budd" Ellison, the song was a tribute to Zuri Edwards, the couple's only child. The song was one of the last to be recorded for LaBelle's debut self-titled solo album. While not a big hit, “You Are My Friend”  would go on to be one of LaBelle’s signature songs with her electrifying performances about her love as a mother.

Mama Used To Say- Junior, 1982

In 1982,  British R&B singer Junior released a classic about his mother's advice titled “Mama Used To Say.” The song by Junior and arranger Bob Carter is about a mother telling her child to take things slow instead of trying “to rush to get old.” The song became a top 30 hit on the Billboard Pop Charts and continues to remind us of the wisdom that comes from motherhood.

Thanks For My Child- Cheryl Pepsii Riley, 1988

Written and produced by Full Force, “Thanks For My Child” is a poignant story about single mothers. The theme of the song was also sparked by Full Force member Bowlegged Lou’s wife’s miscarriage and dealing with the reality of the devastating loss. "Thanks for My Child" became Riley’s biggest hit, landed on the Top 40 pop charts, peaking at number thirty-two, and reached the number one spot on the Hot Black Singles chart for one week.

Dear Mama- Tupac Shakur, 1995

Tupac Shakur’s “Dear Mama” is a touchtone track in rap music that celebrates motherhood. Released as the lead single from his third studio album, Me Against the World, the song paid homage to his mother, Afeni Shakur, while the late rapper was incarcerated. A powerful, vulnerable tribute, “Dear Mama” became his first top ten on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number nine. 

A Song For Mama- Boyz II Men, 1997

Released from the Soul Food soundtrack in 1997, Boyz II Men’s celebration of motherhood, “A Song For Mama,” is an incredible song that conveys the essence of the film and motherhood. Written by Babyface, “A Song For Mama” would be the group’s  11th top-10 hit, peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. The four-part harmony was silky smooth in this tribute to motherhood.

To Zion- Lauryn Hill, 1998

Lauryn Hill’s “To Zion” is a beautiful tribute to her oldest son, Zion David Marley, whom she shared with Rohan Marley. Released from her seminal debut album, The Mis-Education of Lauryn Hill, and featuring the impeccable acoustic Spanish guitar playing of Carlos Santana, the song captures the unspeakable joy she had during her pregnancy and after giving birth. Showcasing her artistic prowess, “To Zion” is one of Hill’s essential songs and one of the finest about motherhood.

Hey Mama- Kanye West, 2005

Released from his sophomore album, Late Registration (2005), “Hey Mama" was Kanye West’s tribute to his mother, Donda West. Produced by West and Jon Brion, the song includes additional vocal contributions from an up-and-coming John Legend. Kanye performed the song throughout his Glow in the Dark Tour in 2008 to honor Donda's memory and at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards the same year.

Speechless- Alicia Keys featuring Eve, 2016

After giving birth to her first child, Egypt, In 2010, Alicia Keys was inspired to write "Speechless.’ Featuring Eve, the track was released from Swizz Beatz’s mixtape Monster Mondays Vol. 1. Although it was composed as freestyle, Keys could not contain her joy and excitement about becoming a mother. Amazingly, Eve would express the same joy that Keys felt when she gave birth to her first child in 2022.


Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.