Her first successful record was the 1956 hit, "Love Is Strange", written by rap forefather Bo Diddley and released as part of the duo Mickey & Sylvia with guitarist Mickey Baker. She married Joe Robinson in 1964 and continued working in the music business, being involved with several more successful releases. As a solo performer and billed as Sylvia she released the single "Pillow Talk" in 1973. The song reached number one on the R&B chart and number three on the pop chart, and is an early example of disco music.
Arguably her most important contribution to the music industry was masterminding the formation of The Sugarhill Gang and the release of their hit, "Rapper's Delight" in 1979, commonly regarded as the first commercially released rap single.