"O-o-h Child" is a 1970 single recorded by Chicago soul family group the Five Stairsteps and released on the Buddah label. Previously, the Five Stairsteps had had peripheral success recording in Chicago with Curtis Mayfield: when Mayfield's workload precluded his continuing to work with the group they were reassigned to Stan Vincent, an in-house producer for Buddah Records, who had recently scored a Top Ten hit with the Lou Christie single "I'm Gonna Make You Mine". Vincent wrote the song for his son, Chuck. The Five Stairsteps' debut collaboration with Vincent was originally formatted with the group's rendition of "Dear Prudence" as the A-side with Vincent's original composition "O-o-h Child" as B-side. However, "O-o-h Child" broke out in the key markets of Philadelphia and Detroit to rise as high as #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1970. The track's R&B chart impact was more muted with a #14 peak, although "O-o-h Child" is now regarded as a "soft soul" classic. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 21 song of 1970.
The Five Stairsteps' only pop Top 40 hit, "O-o-h Child" would be the group's last R&B top 40 hit (they had several top 40 R&B hits in the 1960s) until 1976's "From Us to You". Included on the band's The Stairsteps album from 1970, it has become the Stairsteps' signature song and has inspired more than twenty covers since its release. The song featured various members, including lone female member and eldest sister Alohe, brothers Keni, Dennis, James, lead singer Clarence Burke, Jr. singing in various parts of the song and also drummer Jerome Brailey on the original recording.
The lyrics tell the listener that "things are gonna get easier" in times of strife. The song's uplifting message helped it to become popular among pop and rhythm and blues audiences when it was released.
Dusty Springfield covered the song in November 1971 for possible inclusion on See All Her Faces but her recording went unreleased for almost 30 years until its inclusion on the posthumous Atlantic/Rhino compilation Love Songs, 16 January 2001. Producers: Johnny Franz and Dusty Springfield.
The New Birth. covered the song on their 1971 album, Ain't No Big Thing, But It's Growing.
The Edwin Hawkins Singers recorded this song for their 1973 release I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing, also on the Buddah label.
Dino's version hit #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993.
Beth Orton covered the song on her 2003 compilation album The Other Side of Daybreak as a soft, acoustic guitar version. The song was featured on the pilot episode "First Responders" of The Unit, on an episode of Alias entitled "Repercussions", on an episode of Life entitled "Serious Control Issues", on a CSI: NY episode entitled "Unusual Suspects", on a [Cold Case] episode entitled "Superstar", and at the end of the Hawaii Five-0 episode "Hahai I Na Pilikua Nui".
In its 2002 CD release the 1971 album Gonna Take a Miracle by Laura Nyro was augmented by four live tracks from Nyro's May 30, 1971 concert at Fillmore East including "Ooh Child" with the entire concert being issued in 2004 as Spread Your Wings and Fly: Live at the Fillmore East.
The song was covered by Raya Yarbrough and Bear McCreary in "The Devil In the Dark", Episode 3 Season 1, of the TV show Defiance. The show was first aired April 29, 2013, and is contained on the accompanying soundtrack album to the series.