- Stevie Wonder
Infobox musical artist
Name = Stevie Wonder
Img_capt = Stevie Wonder at a conference in
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Stevland Hardaway Judkins
Alias =Stevland Hardaway Morris
Little Stevie Wonder
Born = birth date and age|mf=yes|1950|5|13
Saginaw, Michigan, United States
Instrument = Vocals, keyboards,
piano, harmonica, drums, bass guitar
Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer
Years_active = 1961–present
Label = Motown
URL = http://www.steviewonder.org.uk
Stevie Wonder (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, name later changed to Stevland Hardaway Morris) [Stevie Wonder's mother's authorized biography, "Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Patricia Hardaway, Stevie Wonder's Mother" (2002, Simon and Schuster) states that his surname was legally changed to Morris when he signed with Motown in 1961.] is an American
singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. A prominent figure in popular musicduring the latter half of the 20th century, Wonder has recorded more than thirty top ten hits, won 26 Grammy Awards [http://www.grammy.com/GRAMMY_Awards/Winners/Results.aspx?title=&winner=stevie%20wonder&year=0&genreID=0&hp=1 Search for "Stevie Wonder" at Grammy.com] .] (a record for a solo artist), plus one for lifetime achievement, won an Academy Award for Best Song[http://awardsdatabase.oscars.org/ampas_awards/DisplayMain.jsp?curTime=1223760491617 Academy Awards Database] . "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". Retrieved on 11 October 2008.] and been inducted into both the Rock and Roll [http://www.rockhall.com/inductees/inductee-list Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - Inductee list] . Retrieved on 11 October 2008.] and Songwriters [http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/C25 Songwriters Hall of Fame - Stevie Wonder] . Retrieved on 11 October 2008.] halls of fame. He has also been awarded the Polar Music Prize. [http://www.polarmusicprize.com Polar Music Prize] . Retrieved on 11 October 2008]
Blind from infancy, Wonder signed with
Motown Recordsas a pre- adolescentat age twelve, and continues to perform and record for the label to this day. He has ten U.S. number-one hits on the pop Charts, 20 U.S. R&B number one hits, and album sales totaling more than 150 million units. 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, bongos, organ, melodica, and clavinet. In his early career, he was best known for his harmonica work, but today he is better known for his keyboard skills and vocal ability.
Stevie Wonder was born on
May 13, 1950in Saginaw, Michigan, United States. He was a premature baby, and because the blood vesselsat the back of his eyes had not yet reached the front, an aborted growth spurt caused the retinas to detach. [cite web|title=Stevie Wonder: Blind faith|publisher= The Independent|url=http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/stevie-wonder-blind-faith-865838.html|date= 2008-07-12|accessdate=2008-07-29] This disease is known as Retinopathy of prematurity(ROP), and while it may have been exacerbated by the oxygen pumped into his incubator, this treatment was not the primary cause of his blindness. His family later moved to Detroit when he was 4. He took up piano at age 7, and had mastered it by age 9. During his early childhood he was active in his church's choir. He also taught himself to play the harmonica and the drums, and had mastered both by age ten. Wonder also learned to play the bass during his early years at Motown. Motown founder Berry Gordysigned him at age 11, impressed by his many musical talents.
Early career, 1961–1971
In 1961, at the age of eleven, Wonder was introduced to
Ronnie Whiteof the popular Motown act The Miracles. White brought Morris and his mother to Motown Records. Impressed by the young musician, Motown CEO Berry Gordysigned Morris to Motown's Tamlalabel with the name Little Stevie Wonder. He then recorded the minor hit "I Call It Pretty Music, But The Old People Call It The Blues".
At the age of thirteen, he had a major hit, "Fingertips (Pt. 2)", a 1963 single taken from a live recording of a
Motor Town Revueperformance, issued on the album, "". The song, featuring Wonder on vocals, bongos, and harmonica, and a young Marvin Gayeon drums, was a #1 hit on the U.S. pop and R&B charts and launched him into the public consciousness.
Dropping the "Little" from his moniker, Wonder went on to have a number of other hits during the mid-1960s, including"
Uptight (Everything's Alright)", "With a Child's Heart", and " Blowin' in the Wind", a Bob Dylancover which was one of the first songs to reflect Wonder's social consciousness, co-sung by his mentor, producer Clarence Paul. He also began to work in the Motown songwriting department, composing songs both for himself and his label mates, including " Tears of a Clown", a number one hit performed by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.
In 1968 he recorded an album of instrumental soul/jazz tracks, mostly harmonica solos, under the pseudonym (and title) "Eivets Rednow", which is "Stevie Wonder" spelled backwards. The album failed to get much attention, and its only single, a cover of "Alfie", only reached number 66 on the U.S. Pop charts and number 11 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts. It was re-issued briefly on compact disc in 1995, and is now a much-sought-after collectible.
By 1970 Wonder had scored more major hits, including "I Was Made to Love Her" (1967), "
For Once in My Life" (1968), " Shoo-Be-Do-Be-Do-Da-Day" (1968), " My Cherie Amour" (1969), " Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday" (1969) and " Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" (1970). Besides being one of the first songs on which Wonder serves as both songwriter and producer, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" is one of the main showcases for his backup group Wonderlove, a trio which included at various times Minnie Riperton, Deniece Williams, Angela Winbush, Lynda Laurenceand Syreeta Wright, whom Wonder married on September 14, 1970. Wonder and Wright divorced eighteen months later, but they continued to collaborate on musical projects. Wonder also played drums on the Jimi Hendrixcover of "I Was Made to Love Her" on the "BBC Sessions" album.
Along with Marvin Gaye, Wonder was one of the few Motown stars to contest the label's factory-like operation methods: artists, songwriters and producers were usually kept in specialised collectives and artists had little creative control. When Gaye wrested creative control from Motown in order to release his innovative, socially conscious album "
What's Going On", Wonder was inspired to seek similar creative freedom from the label. Wonder argued with Berry Gordy over creative control a number of times, and Wonder allowed his Motown contract to expire. He left the label on his 21st birthday in 1971. His final album before his departure was " Where I'm Coming From", which Gordy had strongly opposed releasing. The album produced one top 10 hit, " If You Really Love Me".
In 1970, Wonder co-wrote, and played numerous instruments on, the hit "It's a Shame" for fellow Motown act The Spinners. His contribution was meant to be a showcase of his talent and thus a weapon in his on-going negotiations with Gordy about creative autonomy. [cite album-notes |title=The Very Best of Spinners |bandname=The Spinners |year=1993|first= Kevin|last= Phinney|pages=p. 3 |format=CD booklet |publisher= Rhino Records]
Classic period, 1972–1976
Wonder independently recorded two albums, which he used as a bargaining tool while negotiating with Motown. Eventually the label agreed to his demands for full creative control and the rights to his own songs, and Wonder returned to Motown in March 1972 with "
Music of My Mind", an album which is considered a classic of the era. Unlike most previous artist LPs on Motown, which usually consisted of a collection of singles, B-sides and covers, "Music of My Mind" was an actual LP, a full-length artistic statement, and began a string of five albums – released over a period of less than five years – that make up what is generally considered Stevie Wonder's classic period. This album also marked the beginning of a long collaboration with synthesiser pioneers Tonto's Expanding Head Band( Robert Margouleffand Malcolm Cecil).
October 1972's album "
Talking Book" featured the #1 pop and R&B hit "Superstition", which is one of the most distinctive examples of the sound of the Hohner clavinetkeyboard. The song, originally intended for rock guitarist Jeff Beck, features a rocking groove that garnered Wonder an additional audience on rock radio stations. Wonder and his band also [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ul7X5js1vE performed this song] , as well as an original one called "Sesame Street Song," on an episode of the children's television show " Sesame Street" in 1972. It is widely believed that Wonder played harmonica on the "Sesame Street" closing theme, but in fact the original recording was made with harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans[http://www.tootsthielemans.com/biography/biography.html] .
Wonder's audience was further broadened when he opened for
The Rolling Stoneson their much-heralded 1972 American Tour. Wonder's pop following was not neglected, however, as " You Are the Sunshine of My Life" went to #1 on the pop charts and has been a staple love song in the decades since. Between them the songs won three Grammy Awards.
Political considerations were brought into greater focus than ever before on his third consecutive masterwork of the decade and his career, "
Innervisions", featuring the driving, percolating "Higher Ground" (#4 on the pop charts) followed by the memorable epic " Living for the City" (#8), which found Wonder more evocatively describing a time and place in American life than he would anywhere else in his career. Both songs reached number 1 on the R&B charts. Popular ballads such as "Golden Lady" and " All in Love Is Fair" were also present, in a mixture of moods that nevertheless held together as a unified whole. The album generated three more Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. "Innervisions" is ranked #23 on The Rolling Stones Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.cite web| title = The Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time| accessdate = 2008-10-05 | date=2003-11-18| work = Rolling Stone| url=http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5938174/the_rs_500_greatest_albums_of_all_time/]
In an interview with "Rolling Stone" Magazine, shortly after the release of "Innervisions", Wonder expressed the feeling that someone was going to kill or seriously injure him. Then on August 6, 1973, just days after the interview, Wonder was in a serious
automobile accidentwhile on tour, when a log from a truck went through a passenger window and struck him in the head. This left him in a comafor four days and resulted in a permanent loss of his sense of smell.
Despite the setback Wonder eventually recovered all of his musical faculties, and re-appeared in concert at
Madison Square Gardenin March 1974 in a performance that highlighted both up-tempo material and long, building improvisations on mid-tempo songs such as " Living for the City". The album " Fulfillingness' First Finale" appeared in July 1974 and set two hits high on the pop charts: the #1 " You Haven't Done Nothin'" (a political protest song aimed at Richard Nixon) and the Top Ten " Boogie On Reggae Woman". The Album of the Year was again one of three Grammies won. This year Wonder took part in the bootleg album which would later be known as " A Toot and a Snore in '74", the only known post-Beatles recording of John Lennonand Paul McCartneyplaying together. He also wrote the music and produced every song on the Syreeta Wright album " Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta", which is generally regarded as her best effort as an artist.
On October 5, 1975 Wonder performed the historical "
Wonder Dream Concert" in Kingston, Jamaica, a Jamaican Institute for the Blind benefit concert. Along with Wonder Bob Marley, Peter Toshand Bunny Wailer, the three original "Wailers", performed together for the last time.
By 1975, in his 25th year, Stevie Wonder had won two consecutive Grammy Awards: in 1974 for "Innervisions" and in 1975 for "Fulfillingness' First Finale". The following year, singer songwriter
Paul Simonwon the Grammy for Album of the Year for " Still Crazy After All These Years". In his Grammy acceptance speech, Simon jokingly thanked Stevie Wonder for not releasing an album that year. Simon's joke proved prophetic.
Wonder released what he intended as his "
magnum opus", the double album-with-extra-EP " Songs in the Key of Life", in September 1976. Sprawling in style, unlimited in ambition, and sometimes lyrically difficult to fathom, the album was hard for some listeners to assimilate, yet is regarded by many as Wonder's crowning achievement and one of the most recognisable and accomplished albums in pop music history. The album became the first of an American artist to debut straight at #1 in the Billboard charts, where it remained for 14 non-consecutive weeks. Two tracks fairly jumped out of the radio with energy, becoming the #1 pop/r&b hits "I Wish" and " Sir Duke". The baby-celebratory " Isn't She Lovely",(written about his newborn daughter Aisha), was a future weddingand bat mitzvahfixture, while songs such as " Love's in Need of Love Today" (which years later Wonder would perform at the post-September 11, 2001 "" telethon) and " Village Ghetto Land" reflected a far more pensive mood. The elements of "Love's In Need of Love Today" were used by 50 Cent in the song "Ryder Music" of his 2005 album " The Massacre". Warren Gsampled "Village Ghetto Land" for his song "Ghetto Village." "Pastime Paradise" would become an interpolation for Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" (one of the most popular hits of the mid 1990s), while Will Smithwould use "I Wish" as the basis for the theme song to his movie, "Wild Wild West". "Songs in the Key of Life" won Album of the Year and two other Grammies. The album ranks 56th on The Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The albums Wonder released during this classic period were very influential on the music world; "
Rolling Stone Record Guide" (1983) said that these albums "pioneered stylistic approaches that helped to determine the shape of pop music for the next decade"; "Rolling Stone's" 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Timeincluded four of the five, with three in the top 90; while in 2005 Kanye Westsaid 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?" [Jones, Steve (August 21, 2005). [http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2005-08-21-kanye-main_x.htm "West hopes to register with musical daring"] . "USA Today". ]
Also adding to Wonder's legacy were hits written or cowritten for or covered by other artists. These include the Top Ten hits "
Tell Me Something Good" (Rufus with Chaka Khan) and Aretha Franklin's " Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)".
Commercial period, 1979–1990
It was in Wonder's next phase that he began to commercially reap the rewards of his legendary classic period. The '80s saw Wonder scoring his biggest hits and reaching an unprecedented level of fame evidenced by increased album sales, charity participation, high-profile collaborations, and television appearances.
This period had a muted beginning, for when Wonder did return, it was with the
soundtrack album" Journey through the Secret Life of Plants" (1979), featured in the film "The Secret Life of Plants". Mostly instrumental, the album was panned at the time of its release but has come to be regarded by some critics as an unusual classic. In this year Wonder also wrote and produced the dance hit "Let's Get Serious", performed by Jermaine Jacksonand (ranked by "Billboard" as the #1 R&B single of 1980).
Hotter than July" (1980) became Wonder's first platinum-selling single album, and its single "Happy Birthday" was a successful vehicle for his campaign to establish Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday as a national holiday. The album also included " Master Blaster (Jammin')", his tribute to Bob Marley, " All I Do", and the sentimental ballad, "Lately", which was later covered by Jodeci and S Club 7.
In 1982, Wonder released a retrospective of his '70s work with "
Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium", which included four new songs: the ten-minute funkclassic "Do I Do" (which included legendary jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie), "That Girl" (one of the year's biggest singles to chart on the R&Bside), "Front Line", a narrative about a soldier in the Vietnam War that Stevie wrote and sang in the 1st person, and " Ribbon in the Sky", one of his many classic compositions. Wonder also gained a #1 hit that year in collaboration with Paul McCartneyin their paean to racial harmony, " Ebony and Ivory".
In 1983, Wonder performed the song "
Stay Gold", the theme to Francis Ford Coppola's film adaptation of S.E. Hinton's novel "The Outsiders". Often mistakenly attributed solely to Stevie Wonder, the music is by Carmine Coppola, while Wonder wrote the lyric.
1984 saw the release of Wonder's soundtrack album for "
The Woman in Red". The lead single, " I Just Called to Say I Love You", was a #1 pop and R&B hit in both the United States and the United Kingdom, where it was placed 13th in the list of best-selling singles in the UK published in 2002. It went on to win an Academy Award for "Best Song" in 1985. The following year's " In Square Circle" featured the #1 pop hit " Part-Time Lover". The album also has a Top 10 Hit with "Go Home." It also featured the ballad "Overjoyed" which was originally written for "Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants" but didn't make the album. He performed "Overjoyed" on " Saturday Night Live" when he was the host. He was also featured in Chaka Khan's cover of Prince's " I Feel For You", alongside Melle Mel, playing his signature harmonica, which was a huge hit. In roughly the same period he was also featured on 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", both huge hits.
By 1985, Stevie Wonder was an American icon, the subject of good-humored jokes about blindness and affectionately impersonated by
Eddie Murphyon "Saturday Night Live". (Wonder sometimes joined in the jokes himself; in "The Motown Revue" Smokey Robinson presented Wonder with an award plaque, which he pretended to read for the audience – and to notice a spelling mistake.) He was in a featured duet with Bruce Springsteenon the all-star charity single for African famine relief, " We Are the World", and he was part of another charity single the following year, the AIDS-targeted " That's What Friends Are For". He also played the harmonica on the album " Dreamland Express" by John Denverin the song " If Ever", a song Wonder co-wrote with Stephanie Andrews. He also wrote the track " I Do Love You" for The Beach Boys' 1985 self-titled album.
In 1986, Stevie Wonder appeared on "
The Cosby Show" as himself in the episode "A Touch of Wonder".
In 1987, Wonder appeared on
Michael Jackson's "Bad" album on the duet "Just Good Friends". The song was performed live on one occasion in Sydney, Australia when Wonder made a surprise appearance at Jackson's show at the Parramatta Stadium. Michael Jackson also sang a duet with him titled "Get It" on Wonder's 1987 album "Characters". This was a minor hit single as was "Skeletons" and "You Will Know".
Wonder has also recorded with Jon Gibson, a Christian Soul musician, in particular a remake of his own song, "Have a Talk With God", covered by Gibson on which Wonder plays harmonica. The two men met in the late 1980s.
Later career, 1991–present
After 1987's "Characters" LP, Wonder continued to release new material, but at a slower pace. He recorded a soundtrack album for
Spike Lee's film " Jungle Fever" in 1991. From this album, singles and videos were released for "Gotta Have You" and "These Three Words". The B-side to the "Gotta Have You" single included a recording of "Feeding Off The Love Of The Land", the song that was played during the end credits of the movie "Jungle Fever", but was not included on the soundtrack. 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. It is rumored that "Feeding Off The Love Of The Land" was originally intended for release on "Fulfillingness' First Finale Volume Two", a project that has never been confirmed as completed. "Conversation Peace" and the live album "Natural Wonder" were also released in the 1990s.
In 1996, Stevie Wonder's "
Songs in the Key of Life" was selected as a documentary subject for the Classic Albumsdocumentary series. This series dedicates 60 minutes to one groundbreaking record per feature.
Wonder collaborated with Babyface for an emotionally-charged song about spousal abuse (domestic violence) called "How Come How Long" which was also nominated for an award and had video rotation on television.
That year, he performed
John Lennon's song "Imagine" in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, held in Atlanta.
In December 1999, Wonder announced that he was interested in pursuing an intraocular retinal prosthesis to partially restore his sight. [cite web |url=http://archives.cnn.com/1999/SHOWBIZ/Music/12/03/stevie.wonder/ |title=Stevie Wonder hoping for experimental eye surgery |accessdate=2007-06-04 |date=1999-12-03 |work=CNN.com]
That same year, Wonder was featured on harmonica in the Sting hit "
Brand New Day".
In 2000, Stevie contributed two new songs to the soundtrack for Spike Lee's satire based on minstrelsy, "Bamboozled": "Misrepresented People" and "Some Years Ago".
In 2001, Stevie worked with Damian Marley and Stephen Marley, sons of late reggae superstar Bob Marley. The song was titled "Still Searchin" on Damian Marley's album titled "Halfway Tree".
In March 2002, Wonder performed at the opening ceremonies of the
2002 Winter Paralympicsin Salt Lake City.
Rolling Stone Magazineranked him #15 on their list of the [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5939214/the_immortals_the_first_fifty/ 100 Greatest Rock and Roll Artists of All Time] . [cite web| title = The Immortals: The First Fifty| work = Rolling Stone Issue 946| publisher = Rolling Stone| url=http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5939214/the_immortals_the_first_fifty]
On July 2, 2005, Wonder performed in the USA part of the "Live 8" series of concerts in Philadelphia.
Wonder's first new album in ten years, "
A Time to Love", was released on October 18, 2005, after having been pushed back from first a May, and then a June release. The album was released electronically on September 27, 2005, exclusively on Apple's iTunes Music Store. The first single, "So What the Fuss", was released in April and features Prince on guitarand background vocals from En Vogue. A second single, "From the Bottom of My Heart" was a hit on adult-contemporary R&Bradio. The album also featured a duet with India.Arieon the title track "A Time to Love".
Wonder performed at the pre-game show for
Super Bowl XLin Detroit in early 2006, singing various hit singles (with his four-year-old son on drums) and accompanying Aretha Franklinduring " The Star Spangled Banner".
In March 2006, Wonder received new national exposure on the top-rated "
American Idol" television program. Each of 12 contestants were required to sing one of his songs, after having met and received guidance from him. Wonder also performed "My Love Is on Fire" (from "A Time To Love") live on the show itself. Most recently, in June 2006, Stevie 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. Dreand Sha Money XLproduced 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 duet with
Andrea Bocelliin his album " Amore" with harmonica and additional vocals on "Canzoni Stonate".
Stevie Wonder also performed at
Washington, D.C.'s 2006 "A Capitol Fourth" celebration, which was hosted by actor star Jason Alexander.
On August 2, 2007, Stevie Wonder announced the "A Wonder Summer's Night" 13 concert tour — his first U.S. tour in over ten years. This tour was inspired by the recent passing of his mother, as he stated at the conclusion of the tour on December 9 at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, near Phoenix. Boxer Mike Tyson appeared briefly on stage at the end of the musical program.
Stevie's current musical director is UAB professor Dr.
Henry Panion. Panion is a renowned arranger, composer and conductor, and a pioneer in the development of college music technology programs.
Stevie is currently working on two projects simultaneously: a new album titled "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 which Wonder has described as a performance piece that will reflect his experience as a blind man. [Graff, Gary (June 24, 2008). [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003820080 "Stevie Wonder Pressing On With New Albums"] . "Billboard.com" ]
Tony Bennett recently told Billboard.com that he and Wonder are “just now sketching out" plans for a duo album, with no firm timetable yet for the recording. “I know he wants to do a jazz album," Bennett says. “I'm interested in that myself." The pair's Grammy, for best pop collaboration with vocals, came for their rendition of “For Once in My Life" from Bennett's "" which also took home the best traditional pop vocal album trophy. Bennett says that Wonder is “my favorite guy."
On Monday September 8, 2008, Stevie Wonder started the European leg of his "Wonder Summer's Night Tour", the first time he has toured
Europein over a decade. His opening show is at the National Indoor Arenain Birmingham, England. So far, Stevie has announced five UK gigs, also including one at the M.E.N. Arenain Manchester(September 9) and three at The O2 Arena in Londonon September 11, 12 and 30 [ [http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/artist/772848/?search_redirect=stevie%20wonder&tm_link=tm_header_search Stevie Wonder 2008] ] . Stevie's other stops in his tour also find him playing gigs in Holland, Sweden, Germany, Norway, France, Italy and Denmark. Wonder will also tour Australia and New Zealand in October. [cite web| title = Stevie Wonder to tour Down Under| work = The Daily Telegraph| publisher = News Limited| url=http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,23831266-5012327,00.html]
On Thursday August 28, 2008 — the day
Barack Obamaaccepted his party's nomination to run for President of the US — Wonder performed at Invesco Field at Mile High, at the Democratic National Conventionin Denver, Colorado. Songs included were a previously unreleased song, "Fear Can't Put Dreams to Sleep," and " Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours", a song that has been used regularly during the Obama campaign. [cite web| title = Full musical menu soothes long wait at Invesco Field| work = Rocky Mountain News| url=http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/aug/29/full-musical-menu-soothes-long-wait-at-invesco/]
Wonder's success as a socially conscious musical performer influenced popular music. Among the musicians and performers who list Wonder as one of their major influences are
Michael Jackson, Kelis, Jermaine Jackson, Carrie Underwood, Gloria Estefan, Alicia Keys, Tori Amos, Avia, Mariah Carey, Guy Sebastian, Mary J. Blige, Prince, The Dirtbombs, Kanye West, George Michael, Nik Kershaw, Anthony Kiedis( Red Hot Chili Peppers), Sting, John Ondrasik( Five For Fighting), India.Arie, Musiq Soulchild, Kuhbumser, John Legend, Jason Kay( Jamiroquai), Donell Jones, Brandy, Beyoncé Knowles, John Farnham, Jon Gibson, Aaliyah, Ashanti, Babyface, Justin Timberlake, Craig David, Utada Hikaru, Wang Leehom, Shogo Hamada, Shunsuke Kuroda (from the J-pop group Kobukuro), Jim Underwood, and the members of Jodeci, the Neptunes, Spitting Blood, Tayo Oke(Oklet)a Nigerian, Dru Hill, Maroon 5, and Thunder. UK soul singer Nate Jamessang in his international hit single "The Message": 'Let's go back in time, back to Music of My Mind, with Stevie playing piano just for you'. [http://www.thelyricarchive.com/song/3116304-499063/The-Message]
Wonder has appeared as guest musician/vocalist on numerous recordings by other artists, including
Carly Simon, Busta Rhymes, Quincy Jones, Sting, Pointer Sisters, Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, Jeff Beck, Snoop Dogg, Elton John, Lenny Kravitz, Billy Preston, James Taylor, Roberta Flack, Smokey Robinson, Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Queen Latifah, The Supremes, Babyface, The Beach Boys, Chaka Khan, Herbie Hancock, Luther Vandross, The Temptations, Gloria Estefan, Andrae Crouch, Michael Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, John Denver, BeBe Winans, Julio Iglesias, Don Henley, Take 6, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Rod Stewart, The Gap Band, 'NSYNC, The Manhattan Transfer, Donna Summer, Eurythmics, B.B. King, Paula Abduland Whitney Houston. [ [http://www.steviewonder.org.uk/SongsOfWonder/session_man.htm www.steviewonder.org.uk - The Session Man] . Retrieved on 10 September 2008.]
Minnie Ripertonand Deniece Williamsboth began their careers in the 1970s as backup vocalist for Wonder as part of "Wonderlove". [ [http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=56655255 MySpace.com - Deniece Williams] . Retrieved on 24 September 2008.]
Wonder's songs are renowned for being quite difficult to sing. He has a very developed sense of harmony and uses many extended chords utilizing tensions such as 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, b5s, etc. in his compositions. Many of his melodies make abrupt, unpredictable changes. Many of his vocal melodies are also
melismatic, meaning that a syllable is sung over several notes. In the American IdolHollywood Performances, judge Randy Jacksonrepeatedly stated the difficulty of Wonder's songs. Some of his best known and most frequently covered songs are played in keys which are more often found in jazz than in pop and rock. For example, "Superstition", "Higher Ground" and "I Wish" are in the key of E flat minor, and feature distinctive riffs in the E flat minor pentatonic scale(i.e. largely on the black notes of the keyboard).
Wonder played a large role in bringing
synthesizersto the forefront of popular music. With the help of Robert Margouleffand Malcolm Cecil, he developed many new textures and sounds never heard before. In 1981, Wonder became the first owner of an E-mu Emulator. [cite book
last = Chadabe
first = Joel
authorlink = Joel Chadabe
title = Electric Sound
pages = 188
isbn = 0133032310] It was Wonder's urging that led
Raymond Kurzweilto create the first electronic synthesizers that realistically reproduced the sounds of orchestral instruments; Wonder had become acquainted with the inventor as an early user and evangelist of his reading machine, the technology for which would prove instrumental in the success of the Kurzweil K250.
Wonder has seven children from several relationships and two marriages: in 1970, to Motown singer
Syreeta Wright(the marriage ended in divorce in 1972) and, since 2001, to fashion designer Kai Milla Morris. [cite web |url=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8120126/ |title=Stevie Wonder's birthday present: a baby boy |accessdate=2007-06-04 |author=Associated Press |date=2005-06-15 |work=MSNBC.com]
Aisha Morris, was the inspiration for his hit single "Isn't She Lovely." Aisha Morris is a singer who has toured with her father and accompanied him on recordings, including his 2005 album, " A Time 2 Love". Wonder has two sons with Kai Milla Morris; the older is named Kailand and he occasionally performs as a drummer on stage with his father. The younger son, Mandla Kadjay Carl Steveland Morris, was born May 13, 2005, his father's 55th birthday.
In May 2006, Wonder's mother died in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 76. During his September 8, 2008 UK concert in Birmingham he spoke of his decision to begin touring again following his loss. "I want to take all the pain that I feel and celebrate and turn it around".
Wonder is an activist for civil rights and has endorsed 2008 United States Democratic Party presidential candidate
Barack Obama. Apparently, the respect is more than mutual, as Obama responded to a "Rolling Stone" interview question that asked him who his musical heroes are by saying: "If I had one, it would have to be Stevie Wonder. When I was just at that point where you start getting involved in music, Stevie had that run with "Music of My Mind", "Talking Book", "Fulfillingness' First Finale" and "Innervisions", and then "Songs in the Key of Life". Those are as brilliant a set of five albums as we've ever seen." [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/21472234/page/4]
*Aisha Morris (born April,1975) (by Yolanda Simmons)
*Keita Morris (by Yolanda Simmons)
*Kailand Morris (by Kai Milla Morris)
*Mandla Kadjay Carl Stevland Morris (born May 13, 2005) (by Kai Milla Morris)
Wonder's children are by wife Kai Milla Morris, Yolanda Simmons and Melody McCulley. He never married Yolanda Simmons or Melody McCulley.
U.S. and U.K. Top Ten singles
Thirty-four of Stevie Wonder's singles, listed below, reached the Top Ten on Billboard's Hot 100 chart in the
United States, or in the United Kingdom.
* 1963: "Fingertips - Part 2" (U.S. #1)
* 1965: "
Uptight (Everything's Alright)" (U.S. #2)
* 1966: "
Blowin' in the Wind" (U.S. #9)
* 1966: "A Place in the Sun" (U.S. #9)
* 1967: "I Was Made to Love Her"(U.S. #2, UK #5)
* 1968: "
For Once in My Life" (U.S. #2, UK #3)
* 1968: "
Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day" (U.S. #7)
* 1969: "
My Cherie Amour" (U.S. #4, UK #4)
* 1969: "
Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday" (U.S. #7, UK #2)
* 1970: "Never Had A Dream Come True" (UK #5)
* 1970: "
Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" (U.S. #3)
* 1970: "
Heaven Help Us All" (U.S. #8)
* 1971: "
We Can Work It Out" (U.S. #13)
* 1971: "
If You Really Love Me" (U.S. #8)
* 1972: "Superstition" (U.S. #1)
* 1973: "
You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (U.S. #1, UK #3)
* 1973: "Higher Ground" (U.S. #4)
* 1973: "
Living for the City" (U.S. #8)
* 1974: "He's Misstra Know It All" (UK #8)
* 1974: "
You Haven't Done Nothin'" (with The Jackson 5) (U.S. #1)
* 1974: "
Boogie On Reggae Woman" (U.S. #3)
* 1977: "I Wish" (U.S. #1, UK #4)
* 1977: "
Sir Duke" (U.S. #1, UK #2)
* 1979: "
Send One Your Love" (U.S. #4)
* 1980: "
Master Blaster (Jammin)" (U.S. #3, UK #2)
* 1980: "I Ain't Gonna Stand For It" (UK #7)
* 1981: "Lately" (UK #3)
* 1981: "Happy Birthday" (U.S. #7, UK #2)
* 1982: "That Girl" (U.S. #3)
* 1982: "
Do I Do" (U.S. #7, UK #5)
* 1982: "
Ebony and Ivory" (with Paul McCartney) (U.S. #1, UK #1)
* 1982: "
Ribbon in the Sky" (U.S. #47 pop, #9 R&B)
* 1984: "
I Just Called to Say I Love You" (U.S. #1, UK #1)
* 1985: "
Part-Time Lover" (U.S. #1, UK #2)
* 1985: "
That's What Friends Are For" (with Dionne Warwick, Elton Johnand Gladys Knight(U.S. #1)
* 1985: "
Go Home" (U.S. #9)
Top Ten U.S. and UK Albums
Twelve of Stevie Wonder's albums, listed below, reached the Top Ten in either the
United Statesor the United Kingdom.
* 1963: "" (U.S. #1)
* 1972: "
Talking Book" (U.S. #3)
* 1973: "
Innervisions" (U.S. #4, UK #6)
* 1974: "
Fulfillingness' First Finale" (U.S. #1, UK #5)
* 1976: "
Songs in the Key of Life" (U.S. #1, UK #2)
* 1979: "
Journey through the Secret Life of PlantsSoundtrack" (U.S. #4, UK #7)
* 1980: "
Hotter than July" (U.S. #2, UK #2)
* 1982: "
Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium" (U.S. #4, UK #8)
* 1984: "The Woman in Red" (U.S. #4, UK #2)
* 1985: "
In Square Circle" (U.S. #5, UK #5)
* 1995: "
Conversation Peace" (U.S. #17, UK #8)
* 2005: "
A Time to Love" (U.S. #4)
Awards and recognition
Between 1965 and 1980, a self-produced artist won an additional Grammy as a producer as well as an artist.
In 1983, Wonder was inducted to the
Songwriters Hall of Fame. The year after, 1984, Wonder received an Academy Award for Best Songfor " I Just Called to Say I Love You" from the movie " The Woman in Red". Since 1989, he is an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Wonder received the Polar Music Prizeand Kennedy Center Honors[ [http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/specialevents/honors/history/home.html The Kennedy Center - Past Honorees] . Retrieved on 11 October 2008.] in 1999. In 2002, he was presented with the George and Ira Gershwin Lifetime Achievement Award at UCLA's Spring Sing. He was awarded the Billboard Music Award for the Century Award in 2004, and was one the first inductees into the Michigan Walk of Fame.
Likewise, several artists have acknowledged Wonder's contributions to music, including opera star
Luciano Pavarotti, who once referred to him in a concert as a "great, great musical genius" and Diana Rosscalled Wonder "Motown's musical genius".
Best selling music artists
List of number-one hits (United States)
List of artists by total number of USA number one singles
List of artists who reached number one on the Hot 100 (U.S.)
* [http://steviewonder.org.uk Stevie Wonder Website]
* [http://steviewonder.orgfree.com Stevie Wonder fan-site]
* [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005567/ IMDB Profile]
NAME= Wonder, Stevie
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Judkins, Stevland Hardaway; Morris, Stevland Hardaway
SHORT DESCRIPTION= American
singer, songwriter, and record producer
DATE OF BIRTH= May 13, 1950
PLACE OF BIRTH= Saginaw,
Michigan, United States
DATE OF DEATH=
PLACE OF DEATH=
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