Steveland Judkins Morris was born on May 13, 1950, in Saginaw, Michigan. He is more
popularly known as Stevie Wonder. Stevie was blinded shortly after birth. His blindness
was caused by a medical accident when he was born. He had to be put in an incubator
and he didnt get enough air. In 1954 his family moved to Detroit. He developed his
musical talent early in his life. By the age of 11 years old, he could play the harmonica
and piano and he was a talented singer.
Stevie was introduced to Motown’s Berry Gordy, who recognized Stevies talents.
He was signed to Motown in 1962 and he was given the stage name Little Stevie
Wonder. He later grew out of this nickname and dropped the little. Stevie had
success with his single, ‘Fingertips, Part 2’, in 1963. By the time he was 18, Wonder had
released hits such as ‘Uptight’, ‘Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby’, ‘I Was Made to Love
Her’, and ‘For Once in My Life’. He followed that up with more hits, like ‘My Cherie
Amour’ which went platinum in 1969 and ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours’ in 1970.
In 1970 Wonder married Syreeta Wright. After two years of marriage they divorced.
In 1971, at age 21, Stevie bought recording equipment and started a small
recording company. He used two albums that he recorded independently to negotiate
with Motown. Since he was now 21, he could get a new contract that allowed him more
freedom and more money. He began experimenting with use of the synthesizer. A
serious automobile accident in 1973 almost claimed his life. The accident did take his
sense of smell away. Talking Book was an album that he released in 1972 which
included ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life’ and ‘Superstition’. These were two very big
hits. Innervisions, released in 1973, included a hit song called Higher Ground.
Fulfillingness’ First Finale in 1974, and Songs in the Key of Life in 1976 were both hit
albums of Stevie Wonders in the 1970s.
During the 1980s Stevie Wonder released fewer solo albums but made success
recording with other artists. He wrote and performed a song with Paul McCartney. It was
an antiracism hit single ‘Ebony and Ivory’. With Chaka Khan, Steveland performed ‘I
Feel for You’. His single ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’, from the soundtrack of the
film ‘The Woman in Red’ won an Academy award in 1985.
In 1989 Wonder was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He signed a unique
lifetime contract with Motown Records in 1992. Conversation Peace, was an album
Wonder worked on for nearly eight years before its 1995 release. It got good reviews.
In addition to his music, Stevie Wonder’s career was distinguished by his activism for gun
control, drunk driving and anti-hunger campaigns.
Throughout his life he has influenced popular music in the categories of funk,
rock and soul. He has inspired people to become musicians with his own music. He has
also given a lot to civil rights in this country and in other countries (mostly South Africa).
He has also taught blind people that they can be as talented as any person who can see.
From loosing his sight to loosing his sense of smell, he has overcome many obstacles.
Stevie has raised two children. He has also been married once. Wonder currently
performs occasionally. He lives in Beverly Hills, California. He makes special
performances for worthy causes because of his caring for other people. In 1996 Stevie
won a Grammy award for Lifetime Achievement. Throughout the 1990s, Stevie has
released 4 greatest hits albums and over 10 new albums.
Although he was blind since infancy, Stevie Wonder never lacked musical talent.
Wonder’s combination of soul, pop, funk, and rock earned him 15 Grammys, an Academy
award, and success in business. With millions of records sold, the talented performer has
always been recognized for his abilities to do what he wants to do, blind or not.