Legendary American Musician, singer songwriter, recorded producer and multi instrumentalist Stevie Wonder (Stevland Hardaway Morris was born May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan. He was born six weeks premature, which, caused retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a condition in which the growth of the eyes is aborted and causes the retinas to detach; and became blind. When Stevie Wonder was four, his mother left his father and moved to Detroit with her children. Wonder began playing instruments at an early age, including piano, harmonica, drums and bass. He formed a singing partnership with a friend; calling themselves Stevie and John, they played on street corners, and occasionally at parties and dances. child prodigy, he has become one of the most creative and loved musical performers of the late 20th century.
Wonder signed with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of eleven In 1961, and sang his own composition, “Lonely Boy”, to Ronnie White of the Miracles; White then took Wonder and his mother to an audition at Motown, where CEO Berry Gordy signed Wonder to Motown’s Tamla label. Before signing, producer Clarence Paul gave him the name Little Stevie Wonder.Because of Wonder’s age, the label drew up a rolling five-year contract in which royalties would be held in trust until Wonder was 21; until that time, Wonder and his mother would be paid a weekly stipend to cover their expenses – Wonder received $2.50 a week, and a private tutor was provided for when Wonder was on tour. Some of Wonder’s classic songs are”Superstition”, “Sir Duke”, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You”; and albums such as Talking Book, Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life. He has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and received twenty-two Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist, and has sold over 100 million albums and singles, making him one of the top 60 best-selling music artists. Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists to celebrate the US singles chart’s 50th anniversary, with Wonder at number five.
Wonder worked with producer and song-writer Clarence Paul, on two albums; Tribute to Uncle Ray, which was mainly covers of Ray Charles’s songs, it included a Wonder and Paul composition, “Sunset”; The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie was recorded next, consisting of Paul’s compositions, however Wonder co wrote “Wondering” and “Session Number 112”,the song “Mother Thank You”, was recorded but replaced by the Berry Gordy song “I Call It Pretty Music. Wonder’s debut single But the Old People Call It the Blues” was released summer 1962 followed by, “Little Water Boy”, in 1962, he joined the Motortown Revue, and his performance at the Regal Theater, Chicago was recorded and released as the album Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius. A single, “Fingertips”, was also released and became a major hit on the Billboard Hot 100. During 1964, Wonder appeared in two films Muscle Beach Party and Bikini Beach. Sylvia Moy and Wonder collaborated to create the hit “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”, and Wonder also released “With a Child’s Heart”, and “Blowin’ in the Wind”,
He began writing for the motown songwriting department, writing “Tears of a Clown”, a number one hit for Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and had several hits including “I Was Made to Love Her”; “For Once in My Life” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”. In September 1970, at the age of 20, Wonder married Syreeta Wright. They worked together on the next album, Where I’m Coming From; Which was released at around the same time as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. In 1970, Wonder co-wrote, and played numerous instruments on the hit “It’s a Shame” for fellow Motown act the Spinners. Wonder then independently recorded two albums and signed a contract with Motown Records. In March 1972 Wonder released the album Music of My Mind. His next album talking Book, Featured the No. 1 hits “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” which also won three Grammy Awards. Wonder also began touring with the Rolling Stones to alleviate the negative effects from pigeonholing as a result of being an R&B artist in America. The next album. Innervisions, was released in 1973, featured “Higher Ground”,”Living for the City”,”Golden Lady” and “All in Love Is Fair”. Innervisions won three more Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. The album is ranked No. 23 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. On August 6, 1973, Wonder was in a serious automobile accident while on tour in North Carolina, leaving him in a coma for four days and resulted in a partial loss of his sense of smell and a temporary loss of sense of taste. Despite the setback, Wonder re-appeared in concert at Madison Square Garden in March 1974, followed by the album First Finale in July 1974 containing the hits You Haven’t Done Nothin'” and “Boogie On Reggae Woman”. first Finale won three Grammy’s including The Album of the Year.The same year Wonder took part in a Los Angeles jam session ” A Toot and a Snore” in 1975, Wonder performed at the historic “Wonder Dream Concert” in Kingston, Jamaica, a benefit for the Jamaican Institute for the Blind. By 1975, in his 25th year, Wonder had won two consecutive Grammy Awards: in 1974 for Innervisions and in 1975 for Fulfillingness’ First Finale. In 1975, he played harmonica on two tracks on Billy Preston’s album It’s My Pleasure.
Wonder’s next release was The double album-with-extra-EP Songs in the Key of Life, which was released in September 1976 and is regarded by many as Wonder’s crowning achievement and one of the most recognizable and accomplished albums in pop music history. It contained the hits “I Wish”, “Sir Duke”,”Isn’t She Lovely?” Which was written about his newborn daughter Aisha, “Love’s in Need of Love Today” and “Village Ghetto Land” Songs in the Key of Life won Album of the Year and two other Grammys, The album ranks 56th on Rolling Stone′s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
In 1979 he released the instrumental soundtrack album Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through “The Secret Life of Plants” was composed using an early music sampler, a Computer Music Melodian. Wonder also wrote and produced the dance hit “Let’s Get Serious”, performed by Jermaine Jackson and (ranked by Billboard as the No. 1 R&B single of 1980). Hotter than July (1980) became Wonder’s first platinum-selling single album, it contained the singles “Happy Birthday”,”Master Blaster (Jammin’)”, “I Ain’t Gonna Stand for It”, and “Lately”.In 1982, Wonder released a retrospective of his 1970s work with Stevie Wonder’s Original Musiquarium, which included four new songs: the ten-minute funk classic “Do I Do” (which featured Dizzy Gillespie), “That Girl”, “Front Line”, and “Ribbon in the Sky”, he also collaborated with Paul McCartney in their paean to racial harmony, “Ebony and Ivory”.
In 1983, Wonder performed the song “Stay Gold”, the theme to Francis Ford Copolla’s film The Outsiders and also preformed the soundtrack album for The Woman in Red. Containing the single, “I Just Called to Say I Love You”, which became a huge hit and went on to win an Academy award for best song in 1985. The album also featured a guest appearance by Dionne Warwick, singing the duet “It’s You”. The 1986 Albume InSquare Circle featured “Part-Time Lover”. “Go Home” and “Overjoyed”, he was also featured in Chaka Khan’s cover of Prince’s “I Feel For You”, alongside Melle Mel, playing his signature harmonica, he also played harmonica on Eurythmics’ single, “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)” and Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”.Wonder featured on the all-star charity single for African Famine Relief, “We Are the World”, and he was part of another charity single the following year (1986), the AIDS-inspired “That’s What Friends Are For”. He played harmonica on the album Dreamland Express by John Denver in the song “If Ever”. He also wrote the track “I Do Love You” for the Beach Boys’ 1985 self-titled album; and played harmonica on “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” on The Broadway Album by Barbra Streisand.
In 1987, Wonder sang the duet”Just Good Friends” on Michael Jackson’s Bad album. Michael Jackson also sang a duet with him entitled “Get It” on Wonder’s 1987 album Characters. After 1987’s Characters album, Wonder recorded a soundtrack album for Spike Lee’s film Jungle Fever in 1991 which included the songs “Gotta Have You” and “These Three Words” and “Feeding Off The Love of the Land”, A piano and vocal version of “Feeding Off The Love of the Land” was also released on the Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal compilation. The albums Conversation Peace and the live album Natural Wonder were released in the 1990s.Among his other activities he played harmonica on one track for the 1994 tribute album KISS My Ass: Classic KISS Regrooved; sang at the 1996 Summer Olympics closing ceremony; collaborated in 1997 with Babyface on “How Come, How Long”, a song about domestic violence that was nominated for a Grammy award and played harmonica on Sting’s 1999 “Brand New Day”.In December 1999, Wonder announced that he was interested in pursuing an intraocular retinal prosthesis to partially restore his sight. Wonder continues to record and perform and released one album of new material, 2005’s A Time to Love. He appeared at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Paralympics in Salt Lake City,the 2005 Live 8 concert in Philadelphia,the pre-game show for Super Bowl XL in 2006, the Obama Inaugural Celebration in 2009, and the opening ceremony of the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. He sang at the Michael Jackson memorial service in 2009, at Etta James’ funeral, in 2012, and a month later at Whitney Houston’s memorial service.
Wonder’s first new album in ten years, A Time to Love, was released in October 2005 containing the single, “So What the Fuss”, From the Bottom of My Heart” and a duet with India.Arie on the title track “A Time to Love”. By June 2008, Wonder was working on a new albums called The Gospel Inspired By Lula, which will deal with the various spiritual and cultural crises facing the world, and Through The Eyes Of Wonder, an album he has described as a performance piece that will reflect his experience as a blind man. Wonder was also keeping the door open for a collaboration with Tony Bennett and Quincy Jones concerning a rumored jazz album. Wonder also collaborated with Bennett, on”For Once in My Life” which earned them a Grammy for best pop collaboration with vocals in 2006.Wonder’s harmonica playing can be heard on the 2009 Grammy-nominated “Never Give You Up”, featuring CJ Hilton and Raphael Saadiq. In October 2013, Wonder revealed that he had been recording new material for two albums, When the World Began and Ten Billion Hearts, in collaboration with producer David Foster, the albums to be released in 2014
Wonder did a 13-date tour of North America in 2007, starting in San Diego on August 23; this was his first U.S. tour in over ten years. On September 8, 2008, Wonder started the European leg of his Wonder Summer’s Night Tour, the first time he had toured Europe in over a decade. His opening show was at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham. During the tour, Wonder played eight UK gigs; four at the O2 Arena in London, two in Birmingham and two at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester. Wonder’s other stops in the tour’s European leg also found him performing in the Netherlands (Rotterdam), Sweden (Stockholm), Germany (Cologne, Mannheim and Munich), Norway (Hamar), France (Paris), Italy (Milan) and Denmark (Aalborg). Wonder also toured Australia (Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane) and New Zealand (Christchurch, Auckland and New Plymouth) in October and November. His 2010 tour included a two-hour set at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, a stop at London’s “Hard Rock Calling” in Hyde Park, and appearances at England’s Glastonbury Festival, Rotterdam’s North Sea Jazz Festival, and a concert in Bergen, Norway and a concert in Dublin, Ireland at the O2 Arena on June 24.
In 2000, Wonder contributed two new songs to the soundtrack for Spike Lee’s Bamboozled album (“Misrepresented People” and “Some Years Ago”). In June 2006, Wonder made a guest appearance on Busta Rhymes’ new album, The Big Bang on the track “Been through the Storm”. He sings the refrain and plays the piano on the Dr. Dre and Sha Money XL-produced track. He appeared again on the last track of Snoop Dogg’s new album Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, “Conversations”. The song is a remake of “Have a Talk with God” from Songs in the Key of Life. In 2006, Wonder staged a duet with Andrea Bocelli on the latter’s album Amore, offering harmonica and additional vocals on “Canzoni Stonate”. Wonder also performed at Washington, D.C.’s 2006 “A Capitol Fourth” celebration. Wonder appeared on singer Celine Dion’s studio album Loved Me Back to Life performing a cover of his 1985 song “Overjoyed”. The album was released in October 2013.
On February 23, 2009, Wonder became the second recipient of the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for pop music, honored by president Barack Obama at the White House. On March 6, 2010, Wonder was appointed a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand. Wonder had been due to be invested with this honor in 1981, but scheduling problems prevented this from happening. A lifetime achievement award was also given to Wonder on the same day, at France’s biggest music awards.In February 2011, the Apollo Theater announced that Wonder will be the next in line for the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame. The theater said that the singer will be inducted into the New York City institution’s Hall of Fame in five months.
A prominent figure in popular music during the latter half of the 20th century, Wonder has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and won twenty-two Grammy Awards (the most ever won by a solo artist) as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also won an Academy Award for Best Song, and been inducted into both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters halls of fame. He has also been awarded the Polar Music Prize. American music magazine Rolling Stone named him the ninth greatest singer of all time. In June 2009 he became the fourth artist to receive the Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award. He has had ten U.S. number-one hits on the pop charts as well as 20 R&B number one hits, and has sold over 100 million records, 19.5 million of which are albums;he is one of the top 60 best-selling music artists with combined sales of singles and albums.Wonder has recorded several critically acclaimed albums and hit singles, and writes and produces songs for many of his label mates and outside artists as well. Wonder plays the piano, synthesizer, harmonica, congas, drums, bass guitar, bongos, organ, melodica, and clavinet. In his childhood, he was best known for his harmonica work, but today he is better known for his keyboard skills and vocal ability. Wonder was the first Motown artist and second African-American musician to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song, which he won for his 1984 hit single “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from the movie The Woman in Red.
Wonder’s “classic period” is generally agreed to be between 1972 and 1977.Some observers see in 1971’s Where I’m Coming From certain indications of the beginning of the classic period, such as its new funky keyboard style which Wonder used throughout the classic period. Some determine Wonder’s first “classic” album to be 1972’s Music of My Mind, on which he attained personal control of production, and on which he programmed a series of songs integrated with one another to make a concept album.Others skip over early 1972 and determine the beginning of the classic period to be Talking Book in late 1972, the album in which Wonder “hit his stride”. His classic 1970s albums were very influential on the music world: the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide said they “pioneered stylistic approaches that helped to determine the shape of pop music for the next decade”;Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time included four of the five albums, with three in the top 90;and in 2005, Kanye West said of his own work, “I’m not trying to compete with what’s out there now. I’m really trying to compete with Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life. It sounds musically blasphemous to say something like that, but why not set that as your bar?”