Stevie Wonder was something of a child prodigy. He was signed by Motown Records in the 1960s when he was only eleven years of age. Blind since a young age, Wonder grew to become one of the most famous musicians to grow out of Motown due to his notable singing and piano playing abilities. He is also known as a songwriter, having written many of the songs for which he is famous, including “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” “Sir Duke,” “Superstition” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”
While many know Stevie Wonder for his vocal quality and hail him as one of the better rhythm and blues singers to come out of the 1960s, his talents as a composer and multi-instrumentalist (he is an especially talented harmonica player) are equally instrumental in his success. Although he began primarily in the 1960s, it was in the 1970s that he started to release real hits. His album Songs in the Key of Life, released in 1976, is widely believed to be among his better albums, containing songs such as “Isn’t She Lovely,” which is dedicated to his daughter. Some of his earlier hits such as “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” were released prior to that, in 1972’s Talking Book.
He is also known for songs such as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” and he has worked on collaborations such as “Ebony and Ivory” with Paul McCartney and “Just Good Friends” with Michael Jackson. In addition, he is one of many artists to lend his voice to “We Are the World,” by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. Although Stevie Wonder is a humongous stage presence when playing by himself, he knows how to jell with other artists to create a harmonic sense of chemistry when performing a duet.
Wonder is notable for more than just his music. While he has received more Grammy Awards than any other male solo artist ever (he has received 25 altogether), he is also notable for his passionate stances on politics. For instance, he campaigned for the birthday of Martin Luther King to become an American holiday in 1980. His is a strong believer in his African heritage, and has named many of his children to suit this perspective. One of his daughters is named Nia, which translates to “purpose,” a principle strongly associated with Kwanzaa. His daughter Aisha, the source of inspiration for the song “Isn’t She Lovely,” is so named because “Aisha” means “intelligence and strength” in African language.
Stevie Wonder’s beliefs add passion to his music, as do his sheer abilities. He can play a number of instruments besides keyboard and harmonica, including percussion instruments such as bongos, congas, and standard drums. He also knows how to play the Clavinet, the organ, and the key-flute. In the 1960s and 1970s, he played everything from soul and funk to jazz and R&B, as well as a fair bit of rock and pop. To this day, he continues to play in a wide range of musical styles, impressing audiences with his multiple talents and inimitable style.
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