Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Wonder, Stevie

Singer. Songwriter. Producer. Musician. Activist and humanitarian. Stevie Wonder has excelled in a wealth of endeavors, making him one of Detroit's most accomplished, visionary and multi-faceted artists. Born Steveland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw, Wonder was blind from birth but didn't let that stop him from learning how to play a variety of instruments -- including keyboards, harmonica and drums -- or from singing and writing songs.

His family moved to Detroit in 1954, and Wonder was discovered by the Miracles' Ronnie White, who arranged an audition with Berry Gordy, Jr. Re-christened Little Stevie Wonder, he released his first album in 1962 and topped the Billboard Pop and R&B charts the following year with "Fingertips -- Pt. 2." There was nothing little about Wonder's artistry. He's been a one-man hit factory, scoring chart singles in each of five decades -- including No. 1's such as "Superstition," "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," "I Wish," "Sir Duke" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You" -- and winning 21 Grammy Awards, including one for Lifetime Achievement.

When he turned 21, Wonder became one of Motown's first artists to take creative control over his career, which led to celebrated albums like "Talking Book," "Innvervisions" and "Songs in the Key of Life." In 2005 Wonder released his first new album in 10 years, "A Time to Love," which he celebrated with a pre-game performance for Super Bowl XL at Detroit's Ford Field.

Wonder has enhanced his legend with tireless social action. He's been an integral contributor to campaigns to battle racism, South African apartheid, AIDS, nuclear power proliferation, drug abuse and drunk driving. He's worked on behalf of the homeless as well as blind and retarded children and appeared at the 2005 Live 8 concert to raise awareness of global poverty. Wonder was also one of the leaders of the successful effort to turn Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday into a national holiday.

 


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