Stevie Wonder


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Wonder, Stevie,

1950–, American singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, b. Saginaw, Mich., as Steveland Hardaway Judkins (changed to Steveland Hardaway Morris, 1961). Blind from birth, he played the piano at seven and the drums and harmonica at nine, and as a boy sang in a church choir. He was discovered in 1961, signed by Motown Records, and made his debut (1962) as "Little Stevie Wonder." He had his first number-one hit, "Fingertips (Part 2)" in 1963. A prodigiously talented musician and songwriter and a superb arranger and producer, Wonder was a pioneer in the use of synthesizers. His music fuses pop, rock, rhythm and blues, and soul with such other genres as gospel, jazz, and reggae. Among his hits are "My Cherie Amour" (1969), "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" (1970), "Superstition" (1972), "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (1973), "Living for the City" (1973), and "I Just Called to Say I Love You" (1984, Academy Award). He also has cowritten, collaborated, and recorded with many of the major pop stars of his era.

Bibliography

See biographies by J. Swenson (1986), M. E. Horn (1996), and M. Beyer (2002); J. E. Perone, The Sound of Stevie Wonder: His Words and Music (2006).

Wonder, Stevie (b. Steveland Judkins)

(1950–  ) musician; born in Saginaw, Mich. A premature baby, he was blinded by receiving too much oxygen in the incubator. He began playing the harmonica at an early age and was signed to a long-term contract with Motown Records in 1960. In 1963 he released his first album, Little Stevie Wonder: The 12 Year Old Genius, and its single release "Fingertips - Pt. 2," became his first million seller. During the 1960s, while attending the Michigan School for the Blind, he had numerous hit records in the classic Motown rhythm-and-blues style. In 1971, upon his 21st birthday, he renegotiated his contract and gained full artistic control over his work. Throughout the 1970s, he became proficient in the use of synthesizers and electronic keyboards and he released a series of innovative, commercially successful albums featuring a fusion of progressive rock and soul, biting social commentary, and sentimental ballads. In 1976, he signed a contract with Motown for $13 million, the largest negotiated in recording history at that date. In the 1980s and 1990s, he was increasingly engaged in children's and civil rights causes, and he led the campaign to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. He was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
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