(b. May 13, 1950)
Born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950, Stevie Wonder became blind shortly after birth. He learned to play the harmonica, piano and drums by age 9. By the time he was 10, his singing and other musical skills were known throughout his neighborhood, and when the family moved to Detroit, impressed adults made his talents known to the owners of Motown Records, who gave him a recording contract when he was age 12.
The LP featured his first nationwide hit – "Fingertips." That recording was followed in just a few more years by "Uptight (Everything’s All Right)" "For Once in My Life," "My Cherie Amour," "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours," and "If You Really Love Me."
He undertook the study of classical piano, and later, music theory, and beginning in 1967, he began writing more of his own material. He authored the Smokey Robinson hit "The Tears of a Clown."
In the early 1970s, Wonder toured with the Rolling Stones and had major hits with the songs "Superstition" and "You are the Sunshine of My Life." In the mid-70s, his album "Songs in the Key of Life" topped the charts for 14 weeks. It includes the breakout hits "I Wish," "Sir Duke," and "Pastime Paradise;" the latter song was sampled in 1995 within a hit by another artist, Coolio. Stevie’s songs have been covered by many artists including Eric Clapton, Barbra Streisand, Marc Anthony, Mary J. Blige, John Mellencamp, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, just to name a few.
Over the years Stevie Wonder has delivered 32 No. 1 R&B and Pop singles, 49 Top 40 R&B and Pop singles, and garnered 25 Grammy Awards, as well as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. He collected an Academy Award for the 1984 hit "I Just Called to Say I Love You" from the film The Woman in Red. In 1989, he was inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. In 1999, Stevie became the youngest honoree of the Kennedy Center Honors.
He was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2002, and in 2004 he won the Johnny Mercer Award in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding creative work.
In 2005, the Library of Congress added Stevie Wonder’s 1976 double album "Songs in the Key of Life" to the National Recording Registry, which recognizes recordings that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States."
Related Library Resources
- Singer/Songwriter Stevie Wonder Named Recipient of Library of Congress Gershwin Prize