Stevie Wonder

From ArticleWorld

Steveland Hardaway Judkins was born on May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan. With his long list of number one hits, he is now a major figure in the black music industry and has been for the last forty years.

The Early Years

Judkins had a difficult birth and suffered from Retinopath of Prematurity (R.O.P), a premature eye, in Lehman’s terms. This eventually caused a detached retina, and he was blind from then on. Despite his handicap, he began learning to play the piano at the age of seven, and by the time he was nine had also mastered the harmonica and the drums. His family moved to Detroit when Judkins was four. Here he joined the church choir and began singing. His music background came mostly from the church, but also from the rhythm and blues sounds of Ray Charles and Sam Cooke. He was discovered by Ron White of the Miracles. White arranged an audition for him at Motown Records. Berry Gordy loved him and signed Judkins to the label on the spot.

Singing Career

Clarence Paul came up with the stage name ‘Wonder’ after introducing Judkins as the ‘8th Wonder of the World’ and the name stuck. Wonder’s commercial success began in 1963 when he released “Fingertips” at the young age of twelve. His career was put on hold as his voice changed and in 1965 he re-emerged with his worldwide hit “Uptight, Everything’s Alright.” This began a six year stretch of U.S. Top 40 hits with songs like “Blowin’ in The Wind” and “A Place in the Sun.” Beginning in 1967, Wonder either wrote or co-wrote all of his singles, and even worked with Smokey Robinson and The Miracles to produce “The Tears of a Clown.”

His Motown contract expired in 1971, and Wonder financed the recordings of his next two albums on his own. He was a pioneer in the use of the synthesizer and used his new talents to persuade Motown to offer a contract that game him complete control over his music. He immediately began producing hit singles such as “Music of my Mind, “Superstition,” and “You are the Sunshine of my Life.”

Wonder was injured badly in a car accident after marrying fellow Motown artist Syreeta in 1970, and after recovering, produced the soundtrack music for the film “The Woman in Red,” which included his biggest selling single to date, “I Just Called to say I Loved You.” Stevie Wonder was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.