After his classic acoustic albums in the 1960s, Ramsey Lewis wanted to head in a new musical direction in the 1970s. As the mid-70s approached, he reunited with Maurice White, who at that time was with his own band, Earth, Wind & Fire. Members of EW&F including White played on the album sessions, while Philip Bailey added vocals.
The album became a huge crossover hit, charting at #1 on the Billboard Black Albums chart, as well as the Jazz album chart. The album also charted #12 in the Pop chart. While the album charted in the top 15, the songs "Hot Dawgit" and "Sun Goddess" charted in the Black Singles, the Pop Singles, and the Disco singles charts.Sun Goddess has been certified gold.
For years, the identity of the woman on the iconic album cover, photographed by Herb Breuer, had been a mystery among fans, as there was no credit on the album cover. Lewis revealed on his Facebook page in June 2011 that the model was Susan Leigh Scott, now Susan Maxon. Maxon had moved to Seattle, where Lewis was performing during his 2011 Sun Goddess Tour, and decided to attend one of his performances. A photo was taken of the backstage meeting between Lewis and Maxon, which Lewis posted on his page.