For Once In My Life
Stevland Hardaway Morris (né Judkins) was born in May 1950. As a result of a premature birth, Stevie was born with detached retinas, resulting in permanent blindness.
His talents as a singer and multi-instrumentalist were spotted at the age of 11 and he was quickly signed up to Motown Records by CEO Berry Gordy. He released his first major hit – ‘Fingertips (Pt. 2) - under the name Little Stevie Wonder.
As he grew up, the hits continued and he lent his songwriting talents to other successful artists: for instance, he is credited with writing the #1 hit ‘Tears of a Clown’ for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
By the mid 60s, Stevie Wonder was no longer ‘Little’. He delivered huge hits tunes such as ‘For Once in My Life’ and ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours’. His Motown contract expired in 1971 when Wonder turned 21. He was keen to spread his wings creatively so Wonder re-negotiated his contract with Motown, giving him more artistic freedom. As a result, he released groundbreaking albums such as ‘Talking Book’ and ‘Innervisions’.
Wonder was creating powerful music and complex lyrics, wearing his political heart on his sleeve on songs like ‘Living for the City’ and ‘Big Brother’. The album ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ followed in 1976, arguably his most ambitious and accomplished piece of work to date.
More commercial success followed in the 80s. ‘I Just Called To say I Love You’, taken from the 'The Woman in Red' soundtrack, became an international No. 1 hit. He also successfully campaigned for a US public holiday to honour Dr. Martin Luther King and released a tribute song to the civil rights activist, ‘Happy Birthday’. His harmonica playing also featured on huge 80s hits by Eurythmics, Elton John and Chaka Khan.
Wonder became less prolific through the 90s. He recorded the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s film ‘Jungle Fever' and performed at the closing ceremony for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Stevie Wonder has been hugely influential to a number of artists such as George Michael, Lenny Kravitz, Prince and Mary J Blige. He coached contestants on American Idol in 2006 when they had to sing with him from his back catalogue - and he is still going strong! In 2008, he brought his 'Wonder Summer’s Night Tour' to Europe and sold out four nights at London’s O2 Arena. He also performed on Inauguration Day for President Obama in 2009.
In 2010, Stevie headlined the final day for Glastonbury's 40th Anniversary. Now in his 60s, Stevie Wonder is still going strong as he does not look like he is going to slow down anytime soon.
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