From his electrifying debut at age eleven, through all the amazing performances in the years since, this 'one-man-band' has influenced global musical evolution in many ways. Today, we'll recall some especially memorable, although, perhaps, lesser-remembered highlights.
Stevie Wonder -This Classic Motown profile follows Stevie Wonder's career, highlighting notable moments and hits: the youngest to have a No. 1 album, the first to reach that summit with a live recording, the first American to have an album debut at No. 1, and the only one to receive the Grammy for Album of the Year for three consecutive releases. For more details about his life and career, check out his Wikipedia page.
Fingertips (1963) - This is a live video recording of Little Stevie Wonder, as he was known then, showing the world what he's already got--and it's amazing! The actual Tamla Records recording of this breakout performance reached #1 on the charts, and Stevie Wonder still remains the youngest musician to have a #1 hit. Its accompanying LP, The 12 Year Old Genius Recorded Live, also reached No. 1 simultaneously on the Billboard charts. If you are curious why the recording below is labeled "PT 2" -- what about "PT 1"--the back story is interesting.
I Call It Pretty Music But The Old People Call It The Blues (1962) - Ron White of the Miracles brought Stevie to audition at Motown Records. After signing with them in the summer of 1961, he recorded his first single, I Call It Pretty Music But The Old People Call It The Blues in 1962.
Give Peace a Chance (1972) - This short video has Stevie Wonder performing on stage with John Lennon. Over the years, Stevie Wonder developed a close friendship with John Lennon and they collaborated several times. Here is Stevie Wonder performing Imagine during the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Speech given to lauch campaign for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s holiday - Many give Stevie Wonder credit for propelling public pressure to observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday as a national holiday. These are the words he spoke on Jan 15, 1981 at a rally in Washington, DC where Stevie officially launched the campaign to make Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday. There were more than 100,000 people in attendance. Happy Birthday would become the anthem for the movement.
The Dream Still Lives - This short video is the result of a project created by Stevie Wonder 50 years after Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s death. In the short film, Stevie Wonder and some of the world’s most recognizable entertainers, politicians, athletes, and others share personal dreams inspired by MLK’s famous speech.
Live at the Global Citizen Fest (2017) - This is the full live concert given by Stevie Wonder at the Global Citizen's Fest. The link I give here is just to the opening song, but look at the righthand side of the page, and you'll find all the songs that he performed, ready for viewing. Forty-four years after starting his performance career, he shows the world how it's done.
Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles - The two musical giants, at the top of their powers, performing live together. It is epic!
One Man Band - Let's close out today's Stevie Wonder tribute by watching a short live performance in which he literally plays all the instruments and sings all the background vocals himself. He recorded all the vocals and instruments himself, then sang the lead vocals live. Phenomenal.