Happy Birthday to Stevie Wonder, who turns 67 on Saturday (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?”
During Wonder’s Sunday (May 7th) appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, he had some choice words for President Trump — whom he referred to by his presidential number — “Mr. Number 45.” Billboard reported that before launching into “Higher Ground,” Wonder told the crowd: “We have a lot to do. How many of you in here are about unity? I’m not gonna go talking about people, but a lot has changed since the last time I saw you. You can tell him, Mr. Number 45, that God gave him that position for the purpose of uniting people, not dividing them. Negativity and divisiveness is not the solution. Don’t let the love that I’ve given you be gone because of him — to those who don’t agree with me, two peas in a bucket!”
2015 saw Wonder playing a string of concerts featuring his 1976 classic Songs In The Key Of Life being performed in its entirety, the star-studded CBS Songs In The Key Of Life — An All-Star Grammy Salute, and his induction of Bill Withers into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In December 2014, Wonder welcomed his ninth child, daughter Nia.
Stevie Wonder’s shows have always featured a wide selection of songs spanning his entire career. We asked him about finally picking one of the albums from his classic 1971-to-1980 run and committing to a full album concert: “I have thought about doing performances of different works or, y’know, that whole deal, because as much as they are albums, based on vinyl and CD and all that kind of thing. But, I think something like Songs In The Key Of Life, it’s an actual concept and project that you do that music; y’know, thank God it’s, y’know, stood the test of time and all that.”
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.
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 nine children — including 40-year-old daughter Aisha Morris, who’s part of Wonder’s backing band.
In July 2013, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, Stevie Wonder vowed to boycott performing in Florida until the state abolishes its Stand Your Ground gun law. During a 2013 concert in Quebec City, Quebec, Wonder told the crowd: “The truth is that — for those of you who’ve lost in the battle for justice, wherever that fits in any part of the world — we can’t bring them back. What we can do is we can let our voices be heard. And we can vote in our various countries throughout the world for change and equality for everybody. That’s what I know we can do. Where I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world. Because what I do know is that people know that my heart is of love for everyone and when I say everyone, I mean everyone. As I said earlier, you can’t just talk about it. You gotta be about it. We can make change by coming together for the spirit of unity.”