Stevie Wonder (real name: Steveland Judkins Hardaway, born May 13, 1950) is an American composer, singer, humanitarian and social activist, blind from birth and originally from Saginaw, Michigan. At the age of eleven he began recording (under the name Little Stevie Wonder) and quickly became known as one of the most influential and innovative singer/songwriters of his time. He was also one of the most critically successful artists with the powerful Motown label. Over time, Wonder began singing with a new social consciousness, perhaps best reflected by his hit version of "Blowin' in the Wind" (Bob Dylan). He also became known as a songwriter, writing for The Spinners and Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, among other Motown artists.
Wonder left Motown in 1971 and 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. The two albums, Where I'm Coming From and Music of My Mind, are classics of the era. This is especially true of Music of My Mind, which was more than the typical collection of singles and was an actual LP, full-length artistic statement. Talking Book and Innervisions continued Wonder's critical and popular acclaim, addressing more and more political issues as his music progressed. This continued on Fulfillingness' First Finale (1974) and his magnum opus, Songs in the Key of Life (1976).
Wonder's next album was a soundtrack for the film, Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. The album was panned at the time of its release but has come to be regarded as a classic album. Hotter Than July (1980) become Wonder's first platinum selling album and was a successful vehicle for his campaign to establish Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday as a national holiday. The record also included "Master Blaster (Jammin')", his tribute to Bob Marley. Since 1980, Wonder has continued to release singles and albums, however, he has not sustained the level of critical acclaim and mass popularity he once had. Wonder received Kennedy Center Honors in 1999.
In 1989 Stevie Wonder played a number of concerts at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, United Kingdom. While in Birmingham, Wonder collaborated with former Musical Youth lead singer Dennis Seaton on the pop single "Watcha Talkin Bout. British director Pogus Caesar, who was employed at Central Television studios was invited to direct the in- studio segments of the video. Filmed over two nights while Wonder was staying at the Holiday Inn hotel, the video featured Wonder and Seaton playing the piano. Unfortunately the song did not capture the music buying public's imagination and stayed at the lower end of the charts. Caesar also photographed the event and images are exhibited in 'Muzik Kinda Sweet' ,a highly acclaimed exhibition of legendary black musicans.
Wonder's first new album in 9 years, "A Time 2 Love" was scheduled to be released on July 27th, 2004, but it's currently delayed until around late in the year.
His track Superstition is one of the most distinctive examples of the sound of the clavinet.
His 1984 hit, "I Just Called To Say I Love You", is Motown's biggest-selling single in the UK. It was placed 13th in the all-time list of best-selling singles in the UK issued in 2002.
Stevie has received 22 Grammy Awards. In 2004 he was given the Billboard Music Awards Century Award.
In accepting an honorary doctor of music degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1996, Wonder said: "Many years ago, but not so long ago, there were those who said, 'Well, you have three strikes against you: You're Black, you're blind and you're poor.' But God said to me, 'I will make you rich in the spirit of inspiration, to inspire others as well as create music to encourage the world to a place of oneness and hope and positivity.' I believed Him and not them."
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