Stevie Wonder – No Musical Boundaries
Our house was always resonating with various styles of music. Whether its jazz, Blues Rock, Soul, Country, and other weird stuff. My parents loved music and one artist we always had playing was Stevie Wonder. My mom loved his music! She was also a huge fan of Blues and Soul and throughout the weekend we would get our weekly dose of Motown classics and some Stevie Wonder. So naturally, his music grew on me as well. Plus, bonus points to him for Jamming out on Sesame Street!
While she was liking his earlier stuff, I embraced the music he made in the 70s and going forward. Especially the songs from the albums Innervisions and “Songs in the Key of Life”. Higher Ground, Living For The City, I wish, and Sir Duke were my jams! And his music just got better along the way. For me, these albums and others going forward really hit home with me and to this day I still jam out to them. As for the earlier stuff, I came around and listen to songs as well.
Early Years – Child Prodigy
Born in Saginaw, Michigan, Wonder shows an early gift for music. Which leads to performing in the church choir in Detroit, when his family moves there when he’s four years old. Shortly after, he starts learning a wide range of instruments along the way.
Included are drums, harmonica, piano and the organ. Which he taught himself to play. By the age of eleven, he’s discovered by Ronnie White from the band “The Miracles” who introduces him to Berry Gordy and later makes his musical debut by age 12.
Influences Along the Way
As a recording artist and songwriter for Motown Records from his preteen years on. He has many influential artists that help him along on his career path. Even with working directly alongside Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, the Miracles, and many others at Motown before he’s 18. Sam Cooke as well as Ray Charles, and Johnny Ace influence him as well.
Not only did he change the way most people interpret R&B & Soul Music in the 70s. But, to this day, he’s still considered one of the most influential musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers to this day. A true visionary.
By 1963, he already has his first hit single, Fingertips (Part 2) topping both R&B and the pop charts. As he continues to improve his musical abilities, he goes on to study classical piano while working on his songwriting skills. By 1974, Stevie is one of the most successful figures in popular music.
But towards the end of 1975, he considers leaving the music industry to do more charitable work. So, he starts prepping for his farewell concert. But instead, he changes his mind and signs with Motown with a contract that outlines a seven-year, seven-album, $37 million deal with full artistic control. At the time, it’s the largest recording deals in history. With a successful career, he spends a lot of time on humanitarian projects.
As a musical superstar, the 70s, opens up more opportunities for him as a musician and when he gains full artistic control over his music while becoming the pioneer of incorporating synthesizers and electronic sounds into his music. This influences the face of popular music and the development of electronic music genres.
Awards & Achievements
Stevie Wonder has won 25 Grammy Awards, as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. He is one of only two artists and groups who have won the Grammy for Album of the Year three times as the main credited artist, along with Frank Sinatra.
Furthermore, he’s the youngest artist to be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 as well as being recognized by the Kennedy Center Honors in 1999. To this day, he still involves himself in humanitarian projects, and is still performing and expanding his musical catalog. He’s truly an inspiring musician and performer. Enjoy!