“You cant base your life on other people expectations”
“The only way that you can really stay innovative in music is to be in love with life. You have to live life to be innovative in music.” — Stevie Wonder
One of the most innovative and positive men in spite of physical challenges – Stevie Wonder. To read more on the early stages of his carrer and life go to life as a human
His art transcends boundaries of all kinds as his influence continues to be seen in modern rock, r&b and hip-hop. Wonders music combines the highest level of musicianship and songwriting with the lyrical substance of self exploration and activist to create a body of work that is timeliness in nature.
At Home in Motown
Born Stevland Hardaway Judkins, Stevie Wonder was born on May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan. Blind from birth, Wonder has strongly exceeded any limitations placed upon him. His surname was changed to Morris at age four upon his mother’s remarriage.
Wonder’s introduction to music came with a family move to inner-city Detroit where he initially sang in a gospel choir. He quickly learned to adapt and overcome his blindness while growing up in the rough Detroit neighborhoods.
“I was known as the blind boy who was always making noise, beating on walls, hitting on boxes, singing, and playing the bongos from morning till sunset on the front porch,” says Wonder. “People were like, ‘Give us a break.’”
At age seven, he began to learn the piano, and by age nine was fluent on both harmonica and drums.
At this point it was evident that little Stevie Wonder had a musical gift. By tuning into local radio, he received strong inspiration by rhythm and blues artists such as Ray Charles. Motown R&B combined with a gospel foundation led Wonder’s own musical voice to rapidly emerge.
Ronnie White, a founding member of the Motown group The Miracles was a neighbor of Wonder at the time. Upon a recommendation from his brother Gerald, Ronnie visited the eleven year old Wonder and was taken aback by his talent. White would introduce Wonder to Berry Gordy Jr., founder of the legendary Motown Records. Gordy was immediately impressed — and upon being signed to Motown, Steveland Hardaway Morrois became known as Little Stevie Wonder.
Stevie Wonder first recorded with Motown at the age of 12. The following year, he had his first number one hit on the pop and R&B charts with the single “Fingertips (Part 2)”. The track was recorded live at the Regal Theater in Chicago in 1963. While it showed Wonder’s natural vocal capability and harmonica prowess, it also featured a young Marvin Gaye on drums.
The 60s were a period of musical and personal growth for Wonder. Through the recording and release of over 10 albums, Wonder’s musical ability soared as he became fluent on the drums, piano, organ, and harmonica. However, most of the material on these albums was decided by Motown record executives.
Toward the late 60s, Wonder’s compositional strengths began to surface through writing for other Motown artists such as Smokey Robinson. The beginnings of his social consciousness were also evident in choosing covers such as Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”.
As Wonder approached his 21st birthday in 1971, his first recording contract with Motown was nearing its end. This would ultimately provide the freedom for him to create the music which proved to resonate powerfully. Wonder would change the face of modern music by creating songs which encompassed his musical and compositional gifts with social awareness and spiritual substance