The song builds on "It Must Be Jesus" by the Southern Tones, which Ray Charles was listening to on the radio while on the road with his band in the summer of 1954. He and a member of his band, trumpeter Renald Richard, penned a song that was built along a gospel-frenetic pace with secular lyrics and a jazz-inspired rhythm and blues (R&B) background. The song would be one of the prototypes for what later became termed as "soul music" after Charles released "What'd I Say" nearly five years later.
The song was recorded late 1954 in the Atlanta studios of Georgia Tech radio station WGST. It was a hit—Charles' first—climbing quickly to #1 R&B in January 1955. Charles told the Pop Chronicles that he performed this song for about a year before he recorded it on November 18, 1954. The song would lead to more hits for Charles during this period when he was on Atlantic. It was later ranked No. 239 on Rolling Stone′s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, one of Charles' five songs on the list. A re-recorded version by Ray Charles, entitled "I Gotta Woman" (ABC-Paramount 10649) reached No. 79 on the Billboardpop chart in 1965.
Kanye West's song "Gold Digger" contains samples (as well as an interpolation during the introduction) of the song. The chorus of "I Got a Woman" is sung throughout the song by Jamie Foxx, who portrayed Charles himself in the 2004 biopic Ray.