Album: The Winner in You (1983)
Charted: 12 19
Play Video


  • According to Michael McDonald, this was based on the original Hebrew name for God (Yahweh), and was originally called "Yahweh Be There." The title was James Ingram's idea: "We were talking about how to say 'G-d will be there' without scaring most of the audience away." It was co-written and produced by Quincy Jones (who does the African style sounds in the song) and Rod Temperton, who later wrote "Sweet Freedom" for McDonald (the theme from Running Scared).
  • This won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
  • Michael McDonald has sung this solo over the years. It was even an in-joke in the film The 40 Year Old Virgin in which one of the characters sees a DVD of the McDonald Soundstage production playing in a store and says, "If I hear Ya Mo B There one more time I'm gonna 'ya mo' burn this place!" The song isn't even on the DVD. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sara - Silver Spring, MD, for all above

Comments: 14

  • Mj from OhioLove. This song. Did nourish know what or who Yah Wo was.
  • Walter John Hamilton from ConnecticutOne of my all-time favorite songs. Lifts my heart.
  • Martin from 90744Does anybody have any video facts , where it was shot, whos in it ? Is that a young er michael in the video ? And who is the lady? Just curious couldnt find much online. Thanks
  • Tom from New York, UsaLeland: Two good places to go to look for production and musician credits are and AllMusic is an industry site and pretty comprehensive in its coverage, but it usually only gives credits for an entire album. Here's the relevant entry for Ingram's *It's Your Night* album:

    You can see the bassists on the album were Nathan East, Louis Johnson, and Abraham Laboriel. Holy cow! The album was produced by Quincy Jones, and evidently he doesn't settle for second rate! Alas, the AllMusic entry doesn't tell you who played on which song.

    The Discogs database is user-submitted and has less extensive coverage, but when it has info, it can be more informative than AllMusic. There are several entries for *It's Your Night*; here's the most informative one I found:

    It has track-by-track credits. No bassist is listed for "Yah Mo Be There," so evidently the bass part was performed by one of the two synth players credited for that track, Michael Boddicker and Rod Temperton.
  • John from UsaTo Luke.'s rather amusing how many individuals justify atheism as a sign of being truly knowledgeable and yet make some of the most ignorant comments. Thankyou for the good comedy and continue on in your "enlightenment"
  • Leland Spatz from Taipei, TaiwanI guess Luke is responding to comments that have been posted rather than the song itself (I don't think the song mentions the Bible). I always interpreted this as a "spiritual" song (Solisbury Hill too, though maybe I'm wrong). But I came to this site hoping to find information about the instrumentation. For example, is the bass part played on bass guitar or keyboard?
  • Luke from Manchester, United KingdomQuit the biblical sleeping pills please. the bible's not for everyone, just the brainwashed sheep.
    The ones who can think for themselves don't need to be told where to look.
  • Paula from Beit Shemesh, IsraelAt the HDAudioPlus Audio Studio in Israel we remastered this all-time great track as a demo for our "audiophile mp3" video gallery on Vimeo and YouTube. This is probably the first time ever this amazing song appears in the video context it was written for: Nothing can save mankind except our Father in Heaven. Check it out!
    James Ingram - Yah Mo Be There ( from HDAudioPlus on Vimeo.
    Paula Wertheim - Executive Director, HDAudioPlus Israel
  • ùmùml from Auxerre, Azerbaijan(just to mention that the Hebrew name of God isn't [YHWA], but [YHWH]. The vowels, in Hebrew, aren't written down (except when you learn it or in kid's editions of books, as accents and other diacritical signs) so YHWH was interpreted as Jehovah, Yahweh, and quite a few others. Jewish scholars think that it's actually impossible to know the actual pronunciation of this tetragram, and that it's lucky we don't 'cause it'd be the ultimate blasphemy. Hence the "Yah Mo" before the "B there", like we replace God by gosh in English to respect the third commandmen, or Jewish people replacing Adonai's name by Adoshem when they're not saying it in the context of a prayer or a ceremony.
    There, precision added.
  • Louise from Las Vegas, NvI'm 64 and STILL listening to it. The instrumentalization is superb and, as I see from the comments above, folks share with me in finding a haunting beauty in it. Michael McDonald's voice lends itself well to the pleading spirit of the lyric. A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
  • Pamela from Malibu, CaWOW! Who knew! I always sang the song, "JEHOVAH BE THERE" because the song said to call on his name, and well, that's God's name. But then to read that Michael McDonald based it on the original Hebrew name for God (Yahweh) and he originally sang the song, "Yahweh Be There", I understood. In the original Hebrew scriptures is was spelled (YHWA) in Hebrew letters. Ancient Hebrew was written without vowels. So no one today can say for sure exactly how it was pronounced. In English, the common rendering of that name is "Jehovah" I will continue to sing the song like I always have! Thanks for the amazing info.
  • Val from Thomasville, GaI at the time was 19 and pregnant going through-and heard this song many times-yet really never understanding all the words to it-but-could catch-something like-i'ma be there-up and over-this is actually the first time that i have listened to it and fully understand it-it gave me comfort back then and means much more too me now-thanks and continue to bless and be blessed.
  • Stacey from Baltimore, MdI've always wondered the meaning behind the song until I saw the video for it in the 80's. My interpretation of the song is that sometimes we are "drowning" in whatever trials or tribulations that are happening in our lives and God is sending someone to rescue us. That was my take on it. I love the song now even after 20 years. It can be very uplifting to someone in need. It has helped me alot.
  • Barry from Greenville, NcFor years I've been wondering what the heck this song title meant. Thanks for revealing it at last!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Sam Hollander

Sam HollanderSongwriter Interviews

The hitmaking songwriter/producer Sam Hollander with stories about songs for Weezer, Panic! At The Disco, Train, Pentatonix, and Fitz And The Tantrums.

Rush: Album by Album - A Conversation With Martin Popoff

Rush: Album by Album - A Conversation With Martin PopoffSong Writing

A talk with Martin Popoff about his latest book on Rush and how he assessed the thousands of albums he reviewed.

Mike Love of The Beach Boys

Mike Love of The Beach BoysSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer/lyricist of The Beach Boys talks about coming up with the words for "Good Vibrations," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Kokomo" and other classic songs.

The Girl in That Song

The Girl in That SongFact or Fiction

Billie Jean, Delilah, Sara, Laura and Sharona - do you know who the girls in the songs really are?

Kerry Livgren of Kansas

Kerry Livgren of KansasSongwriter Interviews

In this talk from the '80s, the Kansas frontman talks turning to God and writing "Dust In The Wind."

Meshell Ndegeocello

Meshell NdegeocelloSongwriter Interviews

Meshell Ndegeocello talks about recording "Wild Night" with John Mellencamp, and explains why she shied away from the spotlight.