Early lifeWonder was born Stevland Hardaway Judkins in , on May 13, 1950, the third of five children born to , and the second of Hardaway's two children with Calvin Judkins.Ribowski, Mark (2010). ''Signed, Sealed, and Delivered: The Soulful Journey of Stevie Wonder''. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
1961–1969: Sixties singlesIn 1961, when aged 11, Wonder sang his own composition, "Lonely Boy", to of ; White then took Wonder and his mother to an audition at , where CEO signed Wonder to Motown's Tamla label. Before signing, producer gave him the name Little Stevie Wonder. 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 () per week, and a private tutor was provided for when Wonder was on tour. Wonder was put in the care of producer and songwriter Clarence Paul, and for a year they worked together on two albums. ' was recorded first, when Wonder was still 11 years old. Mainly covers of 's songs, the album included a Wonder and Paul composition, "Sunset". ' was recorded next, an instrumental album consisting mainly of Paul's compositions, two of which, "Wondering" and "Session Number 112", were co-written with Wonder. Feeling Wonder was now ready, a song, "Mother Thank You", was recorded for release as a single, but then pulled and replaced by the Berry Gordy song "I Call It Pretty Music, But the Old People Call It the Blues" as his début single; released summer 1962, it almost broke into the ''Billboard'' 100, spending one week of August at 101. Two follow-up singles, "Little Water Boy" and "Contract on Love", both had no success, and the two albums, released in reverse order of recording—''The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie'' in September 1962 and ''Tribute to Uncle Ray'' in October 1962—also met with little success. At the end of 1962, when Wonder was 12 years old, he joined the , touring the "" of theatres across America that accepted black artists. At the , Chicago, his 20-minute performance was recorded and released in May 1963 as the album '. A single, "", from the album was also released in May, and became a major hit. 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?", was a No. 1 hit on the when Wonder was aged 13, making him the youngest artist ever to top the chart. The single was simultaneously No. 1 on the R&B chart, the first time that had occurred. His next few recordings, however, were not successful; his voice was changing as he got older, and some Motown executives were considering cancelling his recording contract. During 1964, Wonder appeared in two films as himself, ' and ', but these were not successful either. persuaded label owner Berry Gordy to give Wonder another chance. Dropping the "Little" from his name, Moy and Wonder worked together to create the hit "", and Wonder went on to have a number of other hits during the mid-1960s, including "With a Child's Heart", and "", a cover, co-sung by his mentor, producer Clarence Paul.. He also began to work in the Motown songwriting department, composing songs both for himself and his label mates, including "", a No. 1 hit for (it was first released in 1967, mostly unnoticed as the last track of their ' LP, but eventually became a major success when re-released as a single in 1970, which prompted Robinson to reconsider his intention of leaving the group). In 1968 he recorded an album of instrumental soul/jazz tracks, mostly harmonica solos, under the title ', which is "Stevie Wonder" spelled backward. The album failed to get much attention, and its only single, a cover of "", 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 "", "" and "". A number of Wonder's early hits, including "", "I Was Made to Love Her", and "Uptight (Everything's Alright)", were co-written with . The hit single "" was his first-ever self-produced song. In 1969 Stevie Wonder participated in the with the song "Se tu ragazza mia", in conjunction with . Between 1967 and 1970 he recorded four 45 rpm singles and an Italian LP.
1970–1979: Seventies albums and classic periodIn September 1970, at the age of 20, Wonder married , a songwriter and former Motown secretary. Wright and Wonder worked together on the next album, ' (1971), Wonder writing the music, and Wright helping with the lyrics. Around this time, Wonder became interested in utilizing synthesizers after hearing albums by group . Wonder and Wright wanted to "touch on the social problems of the world", and for the lyrics "to mean something". The album was released at around the same time as 's '. As both albums had similar ambitions and themes, they have been compared; in a contemporaneous review by in ''Rolling Stone'', Gaye's was seen as successful, while Wonder's was seen as failing due to "self-indulgent and cluttered" production, "undistinguished" and "pretentious" lyrics, and an overall lack of unity and flow. Also in 1970, Wonder co-wrote, and played numerous instruments on the hit "" for fellow Motown act . His contribution was meant to be a showcase of his talent and thus a weapon in his ongoing negotiations with Gordy about creative autonomy. Reaching his 21st birthday on May 13, 1971, Wonder allowed his Motown contract to expire. During this period, he independently recorded two albums and signed a new contract with . The 120-page contract was a precedent at Motown and gave Wonder a much higher rate. He returned to Motown in March 1972 with '. Unlike most previous albums on Motown, which usually consisted of a collection of singles, s and covers, ''Music of My Mind'' was a full-length artistic statement with songs flowing together thematically. Wonder's lyrics dealt with social, political, and mystical themes as well as standard romantic ones, while musically he began exploring overdubbing and recording most of the instrumental parts himself. ''Music of My Mind'' marked the beginning of a long collaboration with ( and ), and with lyricist . Released in late 1972, Wonder's album ' featured the No. 1 hit "", which is one of the most distinctive and famous examples of the sound of the Hohner keyboard. ''Talking Book'' also featured "", which also peaked at No. 1. During the same time as the album's release, Wonder began touring with the to alleviate the negative effects from pigeonholing as a result of being an R&B artist in America. Wonder's touring with the Stones was also a factor behind the success of both "Superstition" and "You Are the Sunshine of My Life". Between them, the two songs won three . On an episode of the children's television show ' that aired in April 1973, Wonder and his band performed "Superstition", as well as an original called "Sesame Street Song", which demonstrated his abilities with television. ', released in 1973, featured "" (No. 4 on the pop charts) as well as the trenchant "" (No. 8). 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. ''Innervisions'' generated three more Grammy Awards, including . The album is ranked No. 34 on ''Rolling Stone''
1980–1990: Commercial periodThe 1980s saw Wonder achieving his biggest hits and highest level of fame; he had increased album sales, charity participation, high-profile collaborations, political impact, and television appearances. The 1979 mainly instrumental soundtrack album ' was composed using an early music sampler, a . It was also his first , and one of the earliest popular albums to use the technology, which Wonder used for all subsequent recordings. Wonder toured briefly with an orchestra in support of the album, and used a sampler on stage. In this year Wonder also wrote and produced the dance hit "", performed by and ranked by ''Billboard'' as the No. 1 R&B single of 1980. ' (1980) became Wonder's first platinum-selling single album, and its single "" was a successful vehicle for his campaign to establish Dr. 's birthday as a . The album also included "", "", and the sentimental ballad, "". In 1982, Wonder released a retrospective of his 1970s work with ', which included four new songs: the ten-minute classic "" (which featured ), "" (one of the year's biggest singles to chart on the side), "", a narrative about a soldier in the that Wonder wrote and sang in the first person, and "", one of his many classic compositions. He also gained a No. 1 hit that year in collaboration with in their paean to racial harmony, "". In 1983, Wonder performed the song "Stay Gold", the theme to 's film adaptation of 's novel '. Wonder wrote the lyrics. In 1983, he scheduled an album to be entitled ''People Work, Human Play''. The album never surfaced and instead 1984 saw the release of Wonder's soundtrack album for '. The lead single, "", was a No. 1 pop and R&B hit in both the United States and the United Kingdom, where it was placed 13th in the list of best-selling singles in the UK published in 2002. It went on to win an in 1985. Wonder accepted the award in the name of and was subsequently banned from all South African radio by the . Incidentally, on the occasion of his 35th birthday, Stevie Wonder was honored by the for his stance against racism in South Africa that same year (1985). The album also featured a guest appearance by , singing the duet "It's You" with Stevie and a few songs of her own. Following the success of the album and its lead single, Wonder made an appearance on , in the episode "A Touch of Wonder" where he demonstrated his ability to sample. The following year's ' featured the No. 1 pop hit "". The album also has a Top 10 Hit with "Go Home". It also featured the ballad "", which was originally written for ''Journey Through "The Secret Life of Plants"'', but did not make the album. He performed "Overjoyed" on ' when he was the host. He was also featured in 's cover of 's "", alongside , playing his signature harmonica. In roughly the same period he was also featured on harmonica on ' single, "" and 's "". Wonder was in a featured duet with on the all-star charity single for African Famine Relief, "", and he was part of another charity single the following year (1986), the AIDS-inspired "". He played harmonica on the album ' by in the song "If Ever", a song Wonder co-wrote with Stephanie Andrews; wrote the track "I Do Love You" for ' 1985 ; and played harmonica on "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" on ' by . In 1987, Wonder appeared on 's ' album, on the duet "Just Good Friends". Michael Jackson also sang a duet with him entitled "Get It" on Wonder's 1987 album '. This was a minor hit single, as were "Skeletons" and "You Will Know".
1991–1999: Continued released new material, 1996 Summer OlympicsAfter 1987's ''Characters'' album, Wonder continued to release new material, but at a slower pace. He recorded a soundtrack album for 's film ' in 1991. From this album, singles and videos were released for "Gotta Have You", "Fun Day" (remix only), "These Three Words" and "Jungle Fever". The B-side to the "Gotta Have You" single was "Feeding Off The Love of the Land", which was played during the end credits of the movie ''Jungle Fever'' but was not included on the soundtrack. A piano and vocal version of "Feeding Off The Love of the Land" was also released on the ' compilation. ' and the live album ' were released in the 1990s. Among his other activities he played harmonica on one track for the 1994 tribute album '; sang at the ; collaborated in 1997 with on "", a song about domestic violence that was nominated for a Grammy award; and played harmonica on 's 1999 "". In May 1999, presented Wonder with an . In December 1999, Wonder announced that he was interested in pursuing an to partially restore his sight.
2000–present: Later careerInto the 21st century, Wonder contributed two new songs to the soundtrack for 's ' album ("Misrepresented People" and "Some Years Ago"). Wonder continues to record and perform; though mainly occasional appearances and guest performances, he did do two tours, and released one album of new material, 2005's '. In June 2006, Wonder made a guest appearance on ' album ', on the track "Been through the Storm". He sings the refrain and plays the piano on the - and –produced track. He appeared again on the last track of 's album ', "Conversations". The song is a remake of "Have a Talk with God" from '. In 2006, Wonder staged a duet with on the latter's album ', offering harmonica and additional vocals on "Canzoni Stonate". Wonder also performed at Washington, D.C.'s 2006 "" celebration. His key appearances include performing at the opening ceremony of the in , the 2005 , the pre-game show for in 2006, the in 2009, and the opening ceremony of the in Athens, Greece. Wonder's first new album in ten years, ', was released in October 2005 to lower sales than previous albums, and lukewarm reviews—most reviewers appearing frustrated at the end of the long delay to get an album that mainly copied the style of Wonder's "classic period" without doing anything new. The first single, "", was released in April. A second single, "From the Bottom of My Heart", was a hit on adult-contemporary radio. The album also featured a duet with on the title track "A Time to Love". Wonder did a 13-date tour of North America in 2007, starting in on August 23; this was his first U.S. tour in more than 10 years. On September 8, 2008, he started the European leg of his Wonder Summer's Night Tour, the first time he had toured Europe in over a decade. His opening show was at the in Birmingham in the . During the tour, he played eight UK gigs; four at the in London (filmed in HD and subsequently released as a live-in-concert release on DVD and Blu-Ray, ''Live At Last''), two in Birmingham and two at the in Manchester. Wonder's other stops in the tour's European leg also found him performing in the (Rotterdam), Sweden (Stockholm), Germany (Cologne, Mannheim and Munich), (Hamar), France (Paris), Italy (Milan) and (Aalborg). Wonder also toured Australia (Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane) and New Zealand (Christchurch, Auckland and New Plymouth) in October and November. His 2010 tour included a two-hour set at the in , a stop at London's in Hyde Park, and appearances at England's , Rotterdam's , and a concert in Bergen, Norway, and a concert in Dublin, Ireland, at the O2 Arena on June 24. Wonder's harmonica playing can be heard on the 2009 Grammy-nominated "Never Give You Up", featuring CJ Hilton and . He sang at the in 2009, at ' funeral, in 2012, a month later at 's memorial service, and at the funeral of in 2018. Wonder appeared on singer 's studio album ' performing a cover of his 1985 song "Overjoyed". The album was released in October 2013. He was also featured on two tracks on 's 2015 album '. In October 2020, Wonder announced that he had a new released via , So What the Fuss Records, marking the first time his music was not released through Motown Records. The announcement was paired with the release of two singles: "", a "socially-conscious" funk track, and "Where Is Our Love Song," whose proceeds will go towards the organization .
Future projectsBy June 2008, Wonder was working on two projects simultaneously: a new album called ''The Gospel Inspired By Lula'', which will deal with the various spiritual and cultural crises facing the world, and ''Through The Eyes Of Wonder'', an album he has described as a performance piece that will reflect his experience as a blind man. Wonder was also keeping the door open for a collaboration with and concerning a rumored jazz album. If Wonder were to join forces with Bennett, it would not be for the first time: their rendition of "For Once in My Life" earned them a Grammy for best pop collaboration with vocals in 2006. In 2013, Wonder revealed that he had been recording new material for two albums, ''When the World Began'' and ''Ten Billion Hearts'', in collaboration with producer , to be released in 2014. The albums have not seen release. In October 2020, while promoting his two recent singles, Wonder mentioned both ''Through the Eyes of Wonder'' and ''The Gospel Inspired by Lula'' as projects in development, with the former as an album that may feature both singles, and the latter as a future album he may record with his former label Motown.
LegacyWonder is one of the most notable figures of the second half of the 20th century. He is one of the . Virtually a during his peak years, his use of synthesizers and further s during the 1970s helped expand the sound of . He is also credited as one of the artists who helped drive R&B into the , by crafting his as cohesive, consistent statements with complex sounds. He recorded several critically acclaimed albums and hit singles, and also writes and produces songs for many of his label mates and outside artists as well. In his childhood, he was best known for his harmonica work, but today he is better known for his keyboard skills and vocal ability. He also plays the piano, synthesizer, harmonica, , drums, , organ, and . Wonder has been credited as a pioneer and influence to musicians of various genres including pop, , , and rock. Wonder's "classic period" is generally agreed to be between 1972 and 1976. Some observers see aspects of 1971's ' as certain indications of the beginning of Wonder's "classic period", such as its new funky keyboard style which Wonder used throughout the classic period. Some determine Wonder's first "classic" album to be 1972's ', on which he attained personal control of production, and on which he programmed a series of songs integrated with one another to make a . Others skip over early 1972 and determine the beginning of the classic period to be ' in late 1972, the album in which Wonder "hit his stride". Wonder's albums during his "classic period" were considered very influential in the music world: the 1983 ' said they "pioneered stylistic approaches that helped to determine the shape of pop music for the next decade"; In 2005, American recording artist said of his own work, "I'm not trying to compete with what's out there now. I'm really trying to compete with ' and '. It sounds musically blasphemous to say something like that, but why not set that as your bar?" magazine's pop critic, Jack Hamilton, said, "Most Americans follow up their 21st birthdays with a hangover; Stevie Wonder opted for arguably the greatest sustained run of creativity in the history of popular music. Wonder's "classic period"—the polite phrase for when Stevie spent five years ferociously dunking on the entire history of popular music with the releases of ''Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness' First Finale,'' and ''Songs in the Key of Life'' ..We've never heard anything like it since, and barring another reincarnation, we never will again."
"Let me put it this way: Wherever I go in the world, I always take a copy of ''Songs in the Key of Life.'' For me, it's the best album ever made, and I'm always left in awe after I listen to it. When people in decades and centuries to come talk about the history of music, they will talk about , , and Stevie Wonder ..he onderevolved into an amazing songwriter and a genuine musical force of nature. He's so multitalented that it's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes him one of the greatest ever. But first, there's that voice. Along with Ray Charles, he's the greatest R&B singer who ever lived." –Wonder has recorded more than 30 U.S. top ten hits, including ten , well as 20 R&B number one hits. He has sold over 100 million records, 19.5 million of which are albums; he is one of the with combined sales of singles and albums. Wonder was the first artist and second musician to win an for , which he won for his 1984 hit single "" from the movie '. Wonder won 25 s (the most ever won by a solo artist) as well as a . His albums of the "classic period", ''Innervisions'' (1973), ' (1974) and ''Songs in the Key of Life'' (1976), all won the , making him the tied-record holder for the most , with three. He is also the only artist to have won the award with three consecutive album releases. He has been inducted into the , and , and has received a star on the .Songwriters Hall of Fame – Stevie Wonder
MarriagesWonder has been married three times. He was married to Motown singer-songwriter and frequent collaborator from 1970 until their amicable divorce in 1972. From 2001 until 2012 he was married to fashion designer Kai Millard. In October 2009, Wonder and Millard separated; Wonder filed for divorce in August 2012. In 2017 he married Tomeeka Bracy.
ChildrenWonder has nine children by five women. The mother of Wonder's first child is Yolanda Simmons, whom Wonder met when she applied for a job as secretary for his publishing company.' magazine, July 1978, pp. 65–68. Book extract from ''Stevie Wonder'' by Constanza Elsner, published by Everest. Simmons gave birth to Wonder's daughter Aisha Morris on February 2, 1975. After Aisha was born, Wonder said "she was the one thing that I needed in my life and in my music for a long time". Aisha was the inspiration for Wonder's hit single "Isn't She Lovely?" She is now a singer who has toured with her father and accompanied him on recordings, including his 2005 album '. Wonder and Simmons also had a son, Keita, in 1977. In 1983, Wonder had a son named Mumtaz Morris with Melody McCulley. Wonder also has a daughter, Sophia, and a son, Kwame, with a woman whose identity has not been publicly disclosed. Wonder has two sons with second wife Kai Millard Morris; the elder is named Kailand and he occasionally performs as a drummer on stage with his father. The younger son, Mandla Kadjay Carl Stevland Morris, was born on May 13, 2005, his father's 55th birthday. Wonder's ninth child, his second with Tomeeka Robyn Bracy, was born in December 2014, amid rumors that he would be the father to triplets.Sierra Marquina
OtherOn May 31, 2006, Wonder's mother died in Los Angeles at the age of 76. During his September 8, 2008, UK concert in Birmingham, he spoke of his decision to begin touring again following his loss: "I want to take all the pain that I feel and celebrate and turn it around." Wonder was introduced to through his marriage to Syreeta Wright. Consistent with that spiritual vision, Wonder became vegetarian, and later a , singing about it in October 2015 on ' during the show's "" segment. Wonder joined Twitter on April 4, 2018, and his first tweet was a five-minute video honoring Dozens of famous personalities were rounded up in the video, which was titled "The Dream Still Lives". Each person involved shared their dream, calling back to King's popular speech in 1963. Wonder's first tweet took the Internet by storm, and he also encouraged viewers to share their own videos about their dreams with the #DreamStillLives. Wonder has been a longtime affiliated with es. On August 31, 2018, Wonder performed at the funeral of at Detroit's . He closed the ceremony with a rendition of the and his song "". At a concert in London's on July 6, 2019, Wonder announced that he would be undergoing a in September.
Awards and recognition
Grammy AwardsWonder has won 25 , as well as a in 1996. He is one of only two , along with . Wonder is the only artist to have won the award with three consecutive album releases. , - , rowspan="2", , rowspan="2", "" , , , - , , , - , , "" , , , - , rowspan="2", , rowspan="2", "" , , , - , rowspan="3", , , - , , "" , , - , rowspan="6", , rowspan="2", "" , , - , Best Rhythm & Blues Song , , - , rowspan="3", "" , , , - , , , - , , , - , ' , rowspan="2", , , - , rowspan="6", , rowspan="2", ' , , - , Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male , , - , "" , Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male , , - , "" , rowspan="2", Best Rhythm & Blues Song , , - , "" , , - , rowspan="2", Stevie Wonder , rowspan="2", , , - , rowspan="7", , , - , rowspan="2", "Contusion" , , , - , , , - , "Have A Talk With God" , , , - , rowspan="2", ' , Album of the Year , , - , Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male , , - , "" , rowspan="2", Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male , , - , rowspan="4", , "" , , - , ' , , , - , Stevie Wonder , , , - , "" , rowspan="3", Best Rhythm & Blues Song , , - , rowspan="7", , "" , , - , rowspan="3", "" , , - , Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male , , - , , , - , rowspan="2", "" , Record of the Year , , - , , , - , "" , , , - , rowspan="4", , rowspan="2", "" , Song of the Year , , - , Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male , , - , " (Instrumental)" , Best Pop Instrumental Performance , , - , ' , rowspan="2", Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male , , - , rowspan="2", , ' , , - , "" , Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male , , - , rowspan="2", , rowspan="2", "" , Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal , , - , Record of the Year , , - , rowspan="2", , rowspan="2", "" , Best Rhythm & Blues Song , , - , rowspan="3", Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male , , - , , ' , , - , rowspan="3", , rowspan="2", "" , , - , rowspan="2", , , - , "Jungle Fever" , , - , rowspan="2", , rowspan="2", "" , , , - , Best Rhythm & Blues Song , , - , , "" , Best Pop Instrumental Performance , , - , rowspan="2", , rowspan="2", "" , , , - , rowspan="2", , , - , rowspan="3", , "How Come, How Long" (Live) , , - , rowspan="2", "St. Louis Blues" , Best Male R&B Vocal Performance , , - , Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s) , , - , rowspan="2", , "Love's In Need Of Love Today" , Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal , , - , "Christmas Song" , rowspan="3", Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals , , - , , "" , , - , rowspan="6", , "A Time To Love" , , - , ' , , , - , "" , Best Male R&B Vocal Performance , , - , "How Will I Know" , rowspan="2", Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals , , - , "So Amazing" , , - , "" , , , - , , "" , Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals , , - , , "Never Give You Up" , Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals , , - , , "" , Best Male Pop Vocal Performance ,
Other awards and recognitionWonder has been given a range of awards, both for his music and for his civil rights work, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the , being named one of the , and earning a from President in 2014. In December 2016, the recognized Wonder's legacy by renaming a portion of his childhood street, Milwaukee Avenue West, between Woodward Avenue and Brush Street, as "Stevie Wonder Avenue". He was also awarded an honorary key to the city, presented by Mayor .
Honorary degreesStevie Wonder has received many honorary degrees in recognition of his music career. These include:
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