Stevie Wonder, born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan, is an American singer-songwriter. Blind from early childhood, he is considered one of the greatest American artists of the second half of the twentieth century and has one of the most prolific careers in American popular music.
His discography, started at the age of 11, in 2018 includes no less than 26 studio albums, three film music albums, four live albums and 98 singles. In addition, in the United States, 49 of his songs were in the Top 40 and 10 in number one on the Billboard Hot 100. In total, in the world, 32 of his singles were No. 1 in record sales1.
Stevie Wonder has sold over 100 million albums2, received 25 Grammy Awards, and won an Oscar in 1984 for Best Original Song for I Just Called to Say I Love You, during a career spanning more than half a century and which covers many musical genres (such as funk, rhythm and blues, soul or even pop).
Stevie Wonder Biography
He is the third child of a family of six, his father’s name is Calvin Judkins, a street merchant living on a small military pension3, and his mother Lula Mae Hardaway (in), born Lula May Pitts on January 11, 1932. , a waitress who previously had two sons with Paul Hardaway, and who, as a songwriter, will co-write several of her son’s songs4. Born prematurely, Stevie Wonder is placed in an incubator but loses his sight following oxygen therapy with excessively high levels of oxygen5 which cause retinopathy of prematurity6. Because he survived, Stevie Wonder will always believe in luck.
At the age of four, he moved to Detroit with his mother who left Calvin to find his partner Paul Hardaway. He will be renamed Steveland Morris after his mother’s second marriage. He mastered many instruments from his childhood, including the piano, the harmonica as well as various percussion instruments. Very active in the choir of his Pentecostal church, he has a happy childhood even though his family lives in poverty. He began recording at the age of eight, his mentor Clarence Paul (en) training him in piano and composition after his lessons at school. He was discovered by Ronnie White, then a composer in the group The Miracles alongside Smokey Robinson. Stevie signed for the label Tamla at the age of eleven, and his first album was released under the name Little Stevie Wonder in 1962. The producer Clarence Paul gave him this nickname of “Little Stevie Wonder” (“Stevie la Petite Merveille “) After recognizing that:” We can’t keep calling him the eighth wonder of the world “. He quickly obtained his first success with the number one song on the Fingertips charts. His compositions appear on his own records as well as those of other artists of the Motown label. Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, made him a child star, with Little Stevie’s first records generating sales of $ 30 million7. The expiration of his contract in 1966 made Gordy doubt whether to sign him again because the singer’s sales fell and his voice changed with puberty, but the composer and producer Sylvia Moy convinced Motown to give him one last chance. Stevie Wonder provides an answer to their doubts. Wanting his financial independence, after long negotiations with Berry Gordy, he began to assure himself the role of producer on the album Signed, Sealed and Delivered released in 19709. During the summer of 1969, he performed at the Harlem Cultural Festival .
Classics period (1971-1978)
He obtained complete artistic freedom with the mature album Where I’m Coming From in 19717.
The Music of My Mind album released in 1972 is entirely made by the artist, composition, vocals, instruments, production (only a trombone solo by Art Baron in Love Havin ‘You Around, a guitar solo by Buzz Feiton in Superwoman are not the work of Stevie Wonder), who begins to use Moog and ARP synthesizers introduced to him by the pioneers of electronic music Robert Margouleff (en) and Malcolm Cecil (en) 11. Music of My Mind is not composed of a series of singles, like its previous albums, but conceived as a coherent whole. In the following albums, Talking Book and Innervisions (placed by Rolling Stone magazine in 23rd place on its list of the “500 best albums of all time” in 200312), Wonder addresses social themes in songs like Big Brother or Living. for the City, but continues to meet with success with, for example, the piece Superstition, which reached number one in the charts in the pop and rhythm and blues categories, or the ballad You Are the Sunshine of My Life13. He also performed on October 4, 1975 in Kingston, Jamaica, alongside Bob Marley for the Wonder Dream Concert, the proceeds of which were donated to the Jamaican Institute for the Blind14. The double album Songs in the Key of Life, released in 1976, contained the hits I Wish and Sir Duke – recorded as a tribute to Duke Ellington – which ranked at the top of the best-selling charts in the United States. Rolling Stone magazine places it in 3rd place on its list of the “500 best albums of all time” in 2020.
In 1977, he participated in FESTAC 77, a festival of black and African cultures and arts held in Lagos, Nigeria, and brought together nearly 60 countries16.
Commercial period (1979-1987)
In 1980, the song Happy Birthday from the album Hotter than July campaigned for the establishment of a national holiday in memory of the Reverend Martin Luther King. Stevie Wonder’s determination paid off in 1986 when Ronald Reagan introduced into US law the third Monday in January as a public holiday in memory of Martin Luther King. On the same album, he pays homage to Jamaican singer Bob Marley with the title Master Blaster (Jammin ‘). Also in 1980, he actively participated in the album “Let’s Get Serious” 17 by Jermaine Jackson which will get his first No. 1 in the R&B charts with the title track of the album with a hard-hitting featuring, the important artistic presence of Stevie has was decisive for his friend and ex-singer of the Jackson 5 in the rest of his career. In 1982, Stevie Wonder performed Ebony and Ivory with ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, the song appeared on McCartney’s Tug of War album and ranked first on the UK charts. With I Just Called to Say I Love You, composed for the film La Fille en rouge (The Woman in Red), Stevie Wonder won the Oscar for best original song18; he also got his first UK number one as a solo artist, the title topping the charts for six straight weeks in 1984. He was among the top 20 sales in UK history. .
The following year, Stevie Wonder was part of the collective of forty-four artists called USA for Africa which performed the charity song We Are the World, and produced the album In Square Circle which contained a new hit, Part-Time Lover.
In 1987, his album Characters was a great success, notably thanks to the song Free. This album notably contains a duet with singer Michael Jackson, for the song Get It.
The same year, he sang a duet with Michael Jackson present on the album Bad, in the title Just Good Friends.
Second career part (1988-2001)
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.
In 1991, he wrote the soundtrack for the movie Jungle Fever directed by Spike Lee.
In 1995, he released the album Conversation Peace after 8 years of production.
Recent career (since 2002)
A Grammy Hall of Fame award was given to the single Superstition in 1998, the albums Talking Book and Innervisions won the following year, as well as Songs In The Key Of Life and the single You Are the Sunshine of My Life in 2002. During of the year 2006, he collaborates with some rappers such as Busta Rhymes or Snoop Doggy Dogg.
The album A Time to Love was released in 2005, 10 years after the previous studio album.
He takes part in Barack Obama’s campaign by performing at his meetings (he notably adapts I Wish and Sir Duke by modifying the lyrics) and by recording a political clip in his favor.
On January 19, 2009, he performed alongside Colombian singer Shakira and Usher Higher Ground, in front of nearly 300,000 people at the concert following Barack Obama’s victory19.
On May 23, 2009, Stevie Wonder is invited to close the Mawazine Rythmes du Monde Festival in Rabat20.
On June 30, 2009, Stevie Wonder was invited to open the Montreal Jazz Festival in front of a crowd of 200,000 people21.
On July 7, 2009, he sang at the Michael Jackson tribute ceremony.
During the 25th anniversary concerts in honor of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame taking place on October 29 and 30, 2009, Stevie performs The way you make me feel of his late friend Michael Jackson, and bursts into tears during his performance. On December 3, 2009, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, he was appointed “Messenger of Peace” at UN Headquarters22.
On March 6, 2010, he received the medal of Commander of Arts and Letters23, then a Victoire d’Honneur at the Victoires de la Musique 2010.
On July 4, 2010, Stevie Wonder, as part of his visit to France (only 3 concerts) performed at the arenas of Nîmes24.
On September 29, 2011, he performed on stage for the “Rock in Rio 4” festival.
On February 18, 2012, during the farewell ceremony for Whitney Houston, Stevie paid a heartfelt tribute to the one he considered a very close friend. He performed with great emotion the song Ribbon in the Sky, of which he adapted the lyrics for the occasion. They had performed together several times, notably for Love is in Need for Love25.
He also participates in a concert given in London during the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II on June 4, 2012.
He participated in the Quebec City Summer Festival on July 14, 2013. This show, dedicated to the victims of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, is the conclusion of the 46th edition of the festival. He affirms during this concert that he had made the decision that he would never play again in Florida or in another part of the world where a “Stand Your Ground” law exists26.
Stevie Wonder sings on Celine Dion’s album Loved Me Back to Life, released in 2013, where they cover the hit Overjoyed together.
Stevie Wonder attends the Grammy Awards on January 26, 2014, performing live alongside Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers and Nathan East.
Stevie Wonder will soon [When?] Duet with singer Mariah Carey with an original song on her next album.
The great success of Stevie Wonder had a big impact on modern music.
Many musicians or public figures cite Stevie Wonder as a major influence: Ariana Grande, Stevie Ray Vaughan, India.Arie, Barack Obama, Blackstreet, Gloria Estefan, Musiq Soulchild, George Michael, The Neptunes, Luciano Pavarotti, Tupac Shakur, Will Smith , Coolio, Snoop Dogg, Kirk Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Babyface, Kelis, Donell Jones, Jermaine Jackson, Janet Jackson, Luther Vandross, NSYNC, Glenn Lewis, Dru Hill, Boyz II Men, Alicia Keys , Eric Hutchinson, Carrie Underwood, Lustevie, Elton John, John Legend, Prince, Bruno Mars, Anthony Kiedis (singer of the rock group Red Hot Chili Peppers), Roger Troutman, Sting, Beyoncé Knowles, Aaliyah, Brandy, Justin Timberlake, Ashanti, Shogo Hamada, Jason Kay (singer of Jamiroquai), Hikaru Utada, Ken Hirai, Whitney Houston, Major, Wang Leehom, Lenny Kravitz, Glenn Hughes and Erykah Badu.
Stevie Wonder has appeared as a musician, singer or backing vocalist with many other artists including Ariana Grande, Carly Simon, Busta Rhymes, Quincy Jones, Sting, Ray Charles, 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 (Man-Child), Luther Vandross, The Temptations, Gloria Estefan, Andraé Crouch, Michael Jackson, Pascal Moragues, 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, BB King, Jon Gibson (Have a Talk With God), Paula Abdul, Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick, Raphael Saadiq, Usher, Shakira, Justin Bieber, Kassav ‘, Daft Punk, Travis Scott and Bob Marley.
Michael jackson memorial
Stevie Wonder was there to pay tribute to his friend, following the death of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder said: “The most important thing is the musical legacy he left us. We must celebrate it and not mourn it. We must not fall into negativity ”. During the homage to the King of Pop on July 7, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Stevie Wonder performed the songs Never dreamed you’d leave in summer and They won’t go when I go, preceded by a piano arrangement of I Can’t Help It, song featured on Michael’s Off the Wall album and composed by Stevie. Both had been part of the Motown team of Berry Gordy in the years 1960/1970.
Stevie Wonder Private life
He was married to singer Syreeta Wright and Kai Millard Morris. He is currently married to Tomeeka Robyn Bracy27,28. He is the father of nine children29.
The singer has two children with Kai Millard Morris (Mandla and Kailand), two with Yolande Simmons (Ketia and Aisha), a son with Melody McCulley (Mumtaz) but also two others from previous relationships and whose mothers’ names have not never been disclosed (Kwame and Sophia). And finally with Tomeeka Robyn Bracy two children also (Izaiah and Nia) 29.
Stevie Wonder Discography
- 1962: The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie (Motown)
- 1962: Tribute to Uncle Ray (Motown)
- 1963: With a Song In My Heart (Motown)
- 1964: Stevie at the Beach (Motown)
- 1966: Up-Tight (Motown) US charts: # 32
- 1966: Down to Earth (Motown) US charts: # 92
- 1967: I Was Made to Love Her (Motown) US charts: # 45
- 1967: Someday at Christmas (Motown) US charts: # 81
- 1968: Eivets Rednow (en) (Motown)
- 1968: For Once in My Life (Motown) US charts: # 50
- 1969: My Cherie Amour (Motown) US charts: # 34
- 1970: Signed, Sealed & Delivered (Motown) US charts: # 25
- 1971: Where I’m Coming From (Motown) US charts: # 62
- 1972: Music of My Mind (Motown) US charts: # 21
- 1972: Talking Book (Motown) US charts: # 3
- 1973: Innervisions (Motown) US charts: # 4
- 1974: Fulfillingness’ First Finale (Motown) US charts: # 1
- 1976: Songs in the Key of Life (Motown) US charts: # 1
- 1979: Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants (soundtrack – Motown) US charts: # 4
- 1980: Hotter than July (Motown) US charts: # 3
- 1984: The Woman in Red (original soundtrack – Motown) US charts: # 4
- 1985: In Square Circle (Motown) US charts: # 5
- 1987: Characters (Motown) US charts: # 17
- 1991: Jungle Fever (Music from the Movie) (soundtrack – Motown) US charts: # 24
- 1995: Conversation Peace (Motown) US charts: # 16
- 2005: A Time to Love (Motown) US charts: # 5
- A Gospel Inspired By Lula album was announced in 2013, but has yet to be released (2020).
Albums in public
- 1963: Recorded Live! – The 12 Year Old Genius (Motown) US charts: # 1
- 1968: Eivets Rednow featuring Alfie (instrumental under the pseudonym Eivets Rednow – Motown)
- 1970: Live In Person (Motown)
- 1970: Stevie Wonder Live (Motown)
- 1995: Natural Wonder (Motown)
- 2009: Live At Last
- 1968: Greatest Hits (Motown)
- 1971: Stevie Wonder’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (Motown)
- 1977: Looking Back (a.k.a. Anthology) (Motown)
- 1982: Stevie Wonder’s Original Musiquarium I (Motown)
- 1996: Song Review – A Greatest Hits Collection (Motown)
- 1999: Ballad Collection (Motown)
- 1999: At the Close Of a Century (four disc set – Motown)
- 2002: The Definitive Collection (Motown)
- 2005: The iTunes Stevie Wonder Boxset (Motown)
- 2007: Number Ones (Motown)
- 2003: Conception: An Interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s Songs
- He was awarded the Polar Music Prize in 1999.
Stevie Wonder has been nominated 74 times and received 25 Grammy awards
|1973||Grammy Award for Best R&B Song||Superstition|
|1973||Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance||Superstition|
|1973||Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance||You Are the Sunshine of My Life|
|1973||Grammy Award for Producer of the Year||Innervisions|
|1973||Grammy Award for Best Album of the Year||Innervisions|
|1974||Grammy Award for Best R&B Song||Living for the City|
|1974||Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance||Boogie On Reggae Woman|
|1974||Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance||Fulfillingness’ First Final|
|1974||Grammy Award for Producer of the Year||Fulfillingness’ First Final|
|1974||Grammy Award for Best Album of the Year||Fulfillingness’ First Final|
|1976||Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance||I Wish|
|1976||Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance||Songs in the Key of Life|
|1976||Grammy Award for Producer of the Year||Songs in the Key of Life|
|1976||Grammy Award for Best Album of the Year||Songs in the Key of Life|
|1985||Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance||In Square Circle|
|1986||Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance in a Duo or Group (Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, S. Wonder)||That’s What Friends Are For|
|1995||Grammy Award for Best R&B Song||For Your Love|
|1995||Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance||For Your Love|
|1996||Grammy Lifetime Achievement||For Your Love|
|1998||Grammy Award for Best Arrangement and Vocal / Instrumental Accompaniment (Herbie Hancock, Robert Sadin, and S. Wonder)||St. Louis Blues|
|1998||Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance||St. Louis Blues|
|2002||Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance in a Duo or Group (Take 6 and S. Wonder)||Love’s in Need of Love Today|
|2005||Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance||From the Bottom of My Heart|
|2005||Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance in a Duo or Group (Beyoncé Knowles and S. Wonder)||So Amazing|
|2006||Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Collaboration (Tony Bennett and S. Wonder)||For Once In My Life|
- 1985: Oscars for Best Original Song for I Just Called To Say I Love You.
- (144296) Steviewonder, asteroid named in his honor.
- Order of Arts and Letters Commander ribbon.svg
Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters
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