Backstage with Stevie Wonder

No Lies Radio Music – By Teri Perticone – Sat Feb 24, 2018


Stevland Hardaway Morris (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins; May 13, 1950),[1] known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist. A child prodigy, he is considered to be one of the most critically and commercially successful musical performers of the late 20th century.[2] Wonder signed with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of 11,[2] and he continued performing and recording for Motown into the 2010s. He has been blind since shortly after birth.[3]


Among Wonder’s works are singles such as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”, “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.[2] He has recorded more than 30 U.S. top ten hits and received 25 Grammy Awards, one of the most-awarded male solo artists, and has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the top 60 best-selling music artists.[4] 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.[5] In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.[6] In 2013, Billboard magazine released a list of the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists to celebrate the US singles chart’s 55th anniversary, with Wonder at number six.[7]

stevie-wonder zongorával

1961–1969: Sixties singles

In 1961, when aged 11, Wonder sang his own composition, “Lonely Boy”, to Ronnie White of the Miracles;[11][12] White then took Wonder and his mother to an audition at Motown, where CEO Berry Gordy signed Wonder to Motown’s Tamla label.[1] Before signing, producer Clarence Paul gave him the name Little Stevie Wonder.[3] 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. He and his mother would be paid a weekly stipend to cover their expenses: Wonder received $2.50 (equivalent to $20.47 in 2017) per week, and a private tutor was provided for when Wonder was on tour.[12]

At the end of 1962, when Wonder was 12 years old, he joined the Motortown Revue, touring the “chitlin’ circuit” of theatres across America that accepted black artists. At the Regal Theater, Chicago, his 20-minute performance was recorded and released in May 1963 as the album Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius.[13] A single, “Fingertips”, from the album was also released in May, and became a major hit.[18] The song, featuring a confident and enthusiastic Wonder returning for a spontaneous encore that catches out the replacement bass player, who is heard to call out “What key? What key?”,[18][19] was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 when Wonder was aged 13, making him the youngest artist ever to top the chart.[20] The single was simultaneously No. 1 on the R&B chart, the first time that had occurred.[21] Dropping the “Little” from his name, Moy and Wonder worked together to create the hit “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”,[21] and Wonder went on to have a number of other hits during the mid-1960s, including “With a Child’s Heart”, and “Blowin’ in the Wind”,[19] a Bob Dylan cover, co-sung by his mentor, producer Clarence Paul.[23] He also began to work in the Motown songwriting department, composing songs both for himself and his label mates, including “The Tears of a Clown”, a No. 1 hit for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

In 1968 he recorded an album of instrumental soul/jazz tracks, mostly harmonica solos, under the title Eivets Rednow, which is “Stevie Wonder” spelled backwards.[25] 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 US Adult Contemporary charts. Nonetheless, he managed to score several hits between 1968 and 1970 such as “I Was Made to Love Her”,[23] “For Once in My Life” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”. A number of Wonder’s early hits, including “My Cherie Amour”, “I Was Made to Love Her”, and “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”, were co-written with Henry Cosby.

Stevie Wonder – I Was Made To Love Her

Stevie Wonder: For Once in My Life, Upbeat Recording

1970–1979: Seventies albums and classic period

During this period, Wonder independently recorded two albums and signed a new contract with Motown Records. Music of My Mind marked the beginning of a long collaboration with Tonto’s Expanding Head Band (Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil).[31][32].

Released in late 1972, Talking Book featured the No. 1 hit “Superstition”. Talking Book also featured “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”, which also peaked at No. 1. During the same time as the album’s release, Wonder began touring with the Rolling Stones to alleviate the negative effects from pigeonholing as a result of being an R&B artist in America.[11] Wonder’s touring with the Stones was also a factor behind the success of both “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”.[30][35] Between them, the two songs won three Grammy Awards.[36] On an episode of the children’s television show Sesame Street that aired in April 1973,[37] Wonder and his band performed “Superstition”, as well as an original called “Sesame Street Song”, which demonstrated his abilities with television.

Stevie Wonder Superstition

You Are The Sunshine Of My Life – Stevie Wonder

Innervisions, released in 1973, featured “Higher Ground” (No. 4 on the pop charts) as well as the trenchant “Living for the City” (No. 8).[33] Both songs reached No. 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.[38] Innervisions generated three more Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.[36] The album is ranked No. 23 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[39] Wonder had become the most influential and acclaimed black musician of the early 1970s.[30]

Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground

By 1975, at age 25, Wonder had won two consecutive Grammy Awards: in 1974 for Innervisions and in 1975 for Fulfillingness’ First Finale.[48] In 1975, he played harmonica on two tracks on Billy Preston’s album It’s My Pleasure.

The double album-with-extra-EP Songs in the Key of Life was released 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 recognizable and accomplished albums in pop music history.[30][33][49] The album became the first by an American artist to debut straight at No. 1 in the Billboard charts, where it stood for 14 non-consecutive weeks.[50] Two tracks became No. 1 Pop/R&B hits “I Wish” and “Sir Duke”. The baby-celebratory “Isn’t She Lovely?” was written about his newborn daughter Aisha, while songs such as “Love’s in Need of Love Today” and “Village Ghetto Land” reflected a far more pensive mood. Songs in the Key of Life won Album of the Year and two other Grammys.[36] The album ranks 57th on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[39]

Stevie Wonder – I Wish (the original version)

Stevie Wonder-Isn’t She Lovely Lyrics


A prominent figure in popular music during the latter half of the 20th century, Wonder has recorded more than 30 U.S. top ten hits and won 25 Grammy Awards[36] (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,[76] and been inducted into both the Rock and Roll[77] and Songwriters[78] halls of fame. He has also been awarded the Polar Music Prize.[79] American music magazine Rolling Stone named him the ninth greatest singer of all time.[80][81] In June 2009 he became the fourth artist to receive the Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award.[82]

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;[83] he is one of the top 60 best-selling music artists with combined sales of singles and albums.[4] 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 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.

Stevie Wonder I Just Called To Say I Love You

Wonder’s “classic period” is generally agreed to be between 1972 and 1977.[84][85][86] 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.[86] 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.[86] Others skip over early 1972 and determine the beginning of the classic period to be Talking Book in late 1972,[87] the album in which Wonder “hit his stride”.[86]

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”;[33] Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time included four of the five albums, with three in the top 90;[39]

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Stevie Wonder – As – 1976 – Songs in the Key of Life

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