Born Stevland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw, Michigan, United States, to Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway. Due to being born six weeks premature, Stevie Wonder was born with a condition called retinopathy of prematurity, which made him blind. Stevie Wonder, even with this disability, made his landmark to be a pioneer and innovator in the music industry.
Stevie Wonder's mother, Lula Mae Hardaway left her husband and moved herself and her children to Detroit. Due to her leaving Lula Hardaway Judkins changed her name to Lula Hardaway and changed Stevie's surname to Stevland Morris. Stevland Morris growing up played various instruments such as the piano, harmonica, drums, and bass. Stevland Morris never played a lot of outdoor activities due to his protective mother. Stevland Morris due to his musical talent was also strongly apart of the church choir. Stevland Morris was originally discovered by Gerald White who often persuaded his brother, soul singer Ronnie White to visit the talented Stevland Morris. Ronnie White after seeing Stevland Morris brought Stevland and his mother to MoTown Records to visit Berry Gordy. Berry Gordy stated he was not impressed by Stevland's singing,or drumming,bongo skills and then he played the harmonica, which astounded Berry Gordy and Stevland Morris in 1961 at the age of eleven signed onto MoTown Records with the stage name, Little Stevie Wonder. The reason why Stevie Wonder had gotten that stage name was because many people were astounded by his ability to play numerous instruments and his ability to sing doing both at the same time, and people called Stevie "A Little Wonder".
Stevie Wonder released his first album called,The Jazz Soul Of Little Stevie at the age of twelve followed by an additional album, Tribute To Uncle Ray dedicated to Ray Charles.
In 1963, Stevie Wonder released a hit-song called, Fingertips Pt(2). The song reached number one on the Billboard Pop Charts. Stevie Wonder became the first singer to have a number one album and single simultaneously. In the song were several percussion instruments played by Stevie Wonder and this song was added to the album,Recorded Live: The Twelve Year Old Genius. Stevie Wonder was then referred to as the child prodigy. Stevie Wonder in 1964 made in film debut in the movie, Muscle Beach Party as well as the sequel Bikini Beach both directed by William Asher. In this movie Stevie Wonder shows off his musical talent singing the songs, Happy Street and Happy Feeling (Dance And Shout).
Stevie Wonder also dropped "Little" from this stage name as his voice started to change and he could no longer sing songs which Clarence Paul had written for him, as they were all written in a higher pitched note. Stevie Wonder then started focusing more on songwriting and came out with genuine hits like Uptight (Everything's Alright),With A Child's Heart, Blowing In The Wind, and a song which he wrote for Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Tears Of A Clown. Several other songs which were smashing hits in the 60's and 70's were I Was Made To Love Her, Signed Sealed And Delivered I'm Yours, which Stevie stated was an idea he had gotten from his mother,and For Once In My Life.
In 1970 Stevie Wonder left MoTown and recorded two independent albums by himself. Berry Gordy was shocked to hear this by Stevie Wonder and Berry Gord agreed to Stevie Wonder's demand of more independence and full creative control and rights to all his songs. In 1972 Stevie Wonder returned to MoTown records and signed a thirteen million dollar contract with MoTown Records. This entitled Stevie Wonder to a higher royalty rate and more full creative control and the rights to his own songs, which few artists had gotten at that time period. This contract unleashed Wonder's songs to now talk about controversial issues such as poverty,war,drugs, and politics.Stevie is known for writing and performing political songs such as, You Haven't Done Nothing, which took a political stab at Richard Nixon. The first album he had released with his new agreement with MoTown was, Music Of My Mind in 1972. In late 1972 Stevie Wonder released an album which today is known as a historic piece in music,Talking Book. Which included the number one hit-song, Superstition. This song featured the clavinet which Stevie Wonder was credited pioneer of, he later used the electric amplified keyboard instrument in many of his other albums along with the synthesizer. The song Superstition was seen as a significant contribution to the Funk genre. Talking Book also featured, You Are The Sunshine Of My Life which also peaked at number one. Stevie Wonder also toured with The Rolling Stones in 1972 which contributed to his album's success. Stevie Wonder struck a controversial issue with the album, Innervisions in 1973 with singles such as Living For The City which talked about poverty and was credited to African Americans.The album also included singles such as Golden Lady, and All Love Is Fair.
On August,6, 1973 Stevie Wonder was in a car accident. The twenty-three year old Stevie Wonder was in the passenger seat of a 1948 Dodge Flatbed Truck,he was sleeping and had his headphones on, the driver distracted by something, and failed to notice the truck ahead of them and crashed. This sent Stevie Wonder into a coma for several days. In a biography entitled, The Miraculous Journey Of Lula Mae Hardaway she retells the story, "There was a great, grinding screech as metal hit metal and, then, impossibly, as if in some lavishly produced Hollywood action movie, one of the great logs disencumbered itself of the truck and came crashing through the windshield, spearing Stevie square in the forehead." Wonder was sent to a hospital immediately after the accident, and was placed under intensive care, with what they described a "bruise on the head" Wonder then made a successful recovery and in 1974 released Fullfillingness' First Finale and which song topped number one on the Billboard Pop Charts was the political song, You Haven't Done Nothing. By the age of twenty-five he was a multiple Grammy-Award winner, winning Grammies for albums such as Talking Book, Inner Vision, and Fullfillingness' First Finale and at the age of twenty-five with several talent musicians he was on the verge of making what came to be one of this most admirable masterpieces, an album called, Songs In The Key Of Life.
The double-album, Songs In The Key Of Life was released in 1976 and the album became the first of an American artist to debut straight at number one where it remained for fourteen consecutive weeks. The album contained two tracks which rose to number one on the Billboard Charts,I Wish and Sir Duke. The album also contained an extraordinary sentimental song about his daughter Aisha Morris called,Isn't She Lovely". It also contained the song which focused strongly on poverty called, Village Ghetto Land. Rolling Stones listed the album as the 56th Greatest Album Of All Time out of 500.
In 1979, Wonder released a soundtrack album called Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants. It was featured in the film The Secret Life Of Plants. Wonder also wrote the song,Let's Get Serious for Jermaine Jackson who left The Jacksons and was starting his own solo career. The song was ranked by Billboard to be the number one rhythm and blues song of 1980.
In 1980, Stevie Wonder released the album called Hotter Than July. On this album was a song called Happy Birthday. That song was dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr, and Stevie Wonder was one of the pioneers to getting Martin Luther King Jr a national holiday. Stevie Wonder in 1985 received an Academy Award for his song, I Just Called To Say I Love in the film, The Woman In Red. In 1986, Stevie Wonder made a guest appearance on the hit-show The Cosby Show. It was during this episode in which people were astounded toward what the synthesizer could really do. In 1987 Stevie Wonder made a duet with Michael Jackson on his Bad album with the single, Just Good Friends. In the same year Michael Jackson did a duet on Stevie Wonder's characters album. In 1991, Stevie Wonder recorded a soundtrack album for Spike Lee in his new movie, Jungle Fever. The album was entitled, Jungle Fever and the hit-song on it was entitled Jungle Fever. Other singles that came from this album were Gotta Have You,Feeding Off The Love Of The Land,and These Three Words. Stevie Wonder continued releasing new material throughout the 90's such as Natural Wonder, and Conversation Piece. In 1996 Stevie Wonder's A Song In The Key Of Life album became a documentary subject, and several of the musicians who contributed to the success of the album had a reunion. In 1997 Stevie Wonder collaborated with Babyface on the single, How Come How Long.
In 2000 Stevie Wonder contributed to two sound track songs for Spike Lee's film Bamboozled. The two soundtrack songs were Misrepresented People and Some Years Ago. In 2006, Stevie Wonder's inspiration of his life, his mother, Lula Mae Hardaway died on May,31,2006. Stevie Wonder then in 2007 announced his tour, A Wonder's Summer Night 13 concert tour- this was his first in over ten years, and he states, he wants to take all the sadness he feels,turn it around and celebrate. Stevie Wonder in 2008 was very involved in the Presidential Campaign, and why he thinks Obama will be a great president for America. Stevie Wonder talked at several press conferences about Obama and why America should vote for him. Stevie Wonder in 2009 was named the United Nations Messenger Of Peace.On February 23,2009 Stevie Wonder received the Gershwin Prize For Pop Music awarded to Stevie Wonder by Barack Obama. On June,25,2009 one of his best friends,Michael Jackson had died. Stevie Wonder attended the memorial and performed the song, Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer at the Staple's Center. Stevie Wonder recently in 2011 can be heard playing harmonica on Drake Graham's album Take Care.
Stevie Wonder's songs have been sampled by artists such as Jon Gibson,Red Hot Chilli Peppers,Mary J Blige and several other artists were inspired by Stevie's musical talent. Stevie Wonder will forever be known as a pioneer in music a philanthropist, and a messenger of peace addressing controversies in music which very few artists did at that time. Stevie Wonder has touched the hearts of millions through his music and his philanthropic generosity.
|Kai Millard Morris||(1 September 2001 - present) (filed for divorce) 2 children|
|Syreeta||(14 September 1970 - March 1972) (divorced)|
Plays the chromatic harmonica
At age 49 he was youngest-ever recipient in the 22-year history of Kennedy Center Honors given annually for lifetime contribution to arts and culture, presented by President Bill Clinton in Wash DC, Dec. 5, 1999.
Awarded the Polar Music Prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music Award, in 1999.
Recorded an instrumental jazz album under the name "Eivets Rednow" ("Stevie Wonder" spelled backwards).
At the age of 17 he performed with The Jimi Hendrix Experience playing drums at the BBC. (Jammin'/I was made to love her, BBC Sessions)
Elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
His first #1 hit was the half-improvised "Fingertips - Part 2", recorded live in concert (The first live pop single to ever reach #1). It topped the Pop Music and R&B charts in 1963 when Stevie Wonder was only 12. You can the hear the musicians struggling to keep up with the young vocalist and harmonica player as he improvises rhythm and blues riffs, and at one point in the recording a musician is heard shouting "What key? What key?"
Has won 21 Grammy awards (a record for most Grammy awards)
He was voted the 15th Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artist of all time by Rolling Stone.
"Little Stevie" Wonder grew up to not very little at all, as he stands over 6' tall.
In 1988, he announced his interest in running for mayor of Detroit in the 1992 election. However, he never followed through with a campaign.
His ex-wife, Syreeta, died of breast cancer in Los Angeles on July 6, 2004.
In his acceptance speech for the Oscar for Best Song in 1984, Wonder dedicated his award to imprisoned civil rights leader Nelson Mandela. The South African government promptly banned Wonder's music from the country.
He has 7 children. The last of these, Mandla Kadjaly Carl Stevland Morris, was born May 13, 2005. He was born on his 55th birthday and is his and Kai's first child. Mandla means "Powerful/Defiant" in Zulu. Kadjaly is Swahili for "Born from God"
In addition to his being blind, he also has loss of smell due to a 1973 car crash in North Carolina from which he also has a scar.
Shortly after reaching his 21st birthday in the spring of 1971, he became the first Motown Recording artist to gain complete artistic control of his records.
Collaborated on the 1985 smash hit "We Are the World" (USA for Africa)
His 1976 song "Isn't She Lovely" (from album "Songs in the Key of Life") was dedicated to then newborn daughter Aisha whose name and "baby sounds" can be heard on the track
Joined friends Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Elton John on the 1986 chart-topper "That's What Friends Are For", the proceeds of which were donated to AIDS research. Also played harmonica on the recording.
Oddly enough, two other vocalists introduced his 1973 smash hit "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (from album "Talking Book") before Wonder actually sang any lyrics. Respectively, these singers were James Gilstrap and Lani Groves.
Played harmonica on Chaka Khan's 1984 hit "I Feel For You"
Wrote "Superstition" originally for friend Jeff Beck while completing his 1973 album "Talking Book." Though Beck had actually recorded the number in 1972, Motown rush-released Wonder's cut ahead of the album, and "Superstition" became his second number one hit in January 1973
Has been blind since birth
Son of Lula Mae Hardaway.
Became the very first blind recipient of an Academy Award when his composition "I Just Called to Say I Love You" won Best Original Song from The Woman in Red (1984) soundtrack.
Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983.
Wrote the tribute for Mariah Carey's endorsement in Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" (Artists & Entertainers section / Issue May 12, 2008).
Voted the ninth greatest singer of the rock era in a Rolling Stone magazine poll in 2008.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 7050 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
Received the Second Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song on February 25, 2009. Selection was announced September 2008.
Friend Dizzy Gillespie played the trumpet solo on "Do I Do" from Wonder's "Musiquarium" compilation album (1982).
He was nominated for a 2010 New Jersey Hall of Fame for his services and contributions to Arts and Entertainment.
Named U.N. Messenger of Peace [December 2, 2009].
Dedicated his song "Sir Duke" (from "Songs in the Key of Life" (1976)) to lifelong hero Duke Ellington.
Dedicated the finale of his 2008 "Live At Last" London concert to the memory of his beloved mother who had died 31 May 2006. Wonder performed his song "As" (from album "Songs in the Key of Life") to commemorate the moment.
The funky "guitar riff" that underscores most of his song "Superstition" was actually generated on a Hohner D6 Clavinet keyboard that is still, to this day, a mainstay among Wonder's array of keyboard instruments.
Inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame in 2011.
He is a lifelong staunch liberal Democrat.
A guest at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert.
Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn't mean he lacks vision.
Before I ride with somebody who's been drinking, I'll drive myself.
I just dig audiences. That to me is the most worthwhile thing about this whole business. Just people coming to have a good time and letting me sing for them.
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