Happy Birthday to Stevie Wonder, who turns 63 today (May 13th)!!! Wonder was born Stevland Judkins in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950, and later on legally changed his last name to Morris. At 12 years old, "Little Stevie Wonder" had his first Number One hit with "Fingertips - Part 2," recorded live in concert. Listen closely and you'll hear the musicians struggling to keep up with Wonder as he improvises; at one point, one musician can be heard shouting, "What key? What key?"
Martha Reeves, who was still working as a receptionist at Motown when Wonder first auditioned for the label, recalled that he was unlike anything they had seen or heard before: "Stevie Wonder, when he came to audition, played every instrument in the studio. Then he surprised everybody by puling this harmonica out of his jacket pocket and playing the harmonica, that nobody (laughs) at Motown had ever played."
The Supremes' Mary Wilson recalls the first time she ever met Stevie Wonder, prior to the recording of his first Number One hit "Fingertips - Part 2": "Stevie Wonder was brought to the studio by Ronnie White of the Miracles. We were at that time Berry Gordy's shadow. Wherever he would go we would go (laughs). So he said 'I have this young kid coming in and I want you guys to listen to him.' Stevie Wonder was going on nine, or something like that, it was just like watching a little genius! (laughs)"
Wonder's last studio album, A Time To Love, peaked at Number Five in 2005.
In September 2008 Wonder was named by the Library Of Congress as the 2008 recipient of the prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
In 2009 Wonder released first concert DVD Live At Last -- A Wonder Summer's Night, which was filmed over two nights at London's O2 Arena.
Also in 2009 he was chosen by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to be a United Nations Messenger of Peace, with a special mission to help people with disabilities.
In 2010, Wonder was awarded the Commander of Arts and Letters award from French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand.
For the past few years the Motown icon has been working on two projects: The Gospel Inspired By Lula, an inspirational work inspired by his late mother, and the concept album Through The Eyes Of Wonder, about experiencing life as a blind person. Wonder was also set to record an album of duets with Tony Bennett with Quincy Jones producing.
Last August it was reported that Wonder filed for divorce from his wife of 11 years, fashion designer Kai Millard Morris. Wonder, who filed under his legal name, Stevland Morris, revealed in court documents that he and his estranged wife have been separated since October 2009. Wonder is being repped by attorney Laura Wasser, who handled the divorce proceedings for Britney Spears and Mel Gibson's ex-wife, Robyn Gibson.
The Motown legend cites irreconcilable differences and is seeking joint custody of the couple's two sons and is willing to pay spousal and child support.
Wonder was previously married to singer-songwriter Syreeta Wright from 1970 to 1972. Since then, he's had several long-term relationships and has fathered seven children -- including 38-year-old daughter Aisha Morris, who's part of Wonder's backing band.
Stevie Wonder will next perform May 19th in Gulf Shores, AL at The Hangout Beach, Music & Arts Fest at Gulf Shores Public Beach.
Photo Courtesy of PRPhotos.com