Larry King Live at 9:00pm ET
on Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Tonight: Stevie Wonder!
Music icon Stevie Wonder!
He sits down with Larry for an unforgettable hour.
Plus, a special performance on the LKL set!
Tonight on Larry King Live!
Singer-songwriter, Record Producer, and Instrumentalist
Stevie Wonder was born with the name of Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950. His last name was changed to Morris later. He was blind from his birth. When he was only eleven years old, he signed with Motown Records. Today he is still signed with Motown Records and continues his performances. He has recorded over thirty top ten hits in the United States and he has won twenty-two Grammy Awards. This makes him the top Grammy Award winner by a male solo artist.
Stevie Wonder was born in 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan to Lula Mae Hardaway and Calvin Judkins. He was born six weeks prematurely, and due to his premature birth, the blood vessels that were at the back portion of his eyes had not yet reached the front of his eyes, and so their aborted growth at his birth caused detached retinas, leaving him permanently blind. The medical condition is called retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP.
At the age of four, Stevie's mother, Lula Mae Hardaway left his father and moved with her children to Detroit. She renamed her son's surname to Morris, and it remained his legal name since that time. When Stevie was young, he began to play instruments at a young age, and this included the drums, harmonica, and piano. He participated in his church choir. He also played the bass.
In 1961, Gerald White had been pestering his brother, Ronnie White of The Miracles to come to his friend's house to see Stevie Wonder. After the meeting, White brought Stevie and his mom to Motown Records. Barry Gordy, CEO for Motown, signed Wonder with the name of Little Stevie Wonder. His first two albums were released, but they had very little commercial success.
By the time Stevie Wonder was thirteen years old, he had a major hit, which was "Fingertips (Pt. 2)." The song had Wonder on the harmonica, bongos, and vocals, and Marvin Gaye was on drums. He also made his film debut with Muscle Beach Party, playing himself. He continued with more hits during the middle of the 1960s, and this included "Uptight(Everything's Alright)," "Blowin' in the Wind," and "With a Child's Heart." He began to work in the songwriting department of Motown and began to write songs for other label mates and himself.
When Stevie Wonder was twenty years old, he married Syreeta Wright, who was a former secretary for Motown as well as a songwriter. His new wife helped him with the writing and producing with his album called Where I'm Coming From. The album did not do well. When he was twenty-one, he allowed his contract with Motown to expire.
Stevie Wonder recorded two albums independently, and used those albums to help him negotiate with Motown. Eventually the company gave in to Stevie's demands for complete creative control and the rights of his own songs. He came back to Motown in 1972 with the record, Music of My Mind. The lyrics of this record dealt with political, social, and mystical themes and standard romantic themes. He also started overdubbing and recording instrumental parts on his own.
Talking Book was his next album, and it had the song, "Superstition," which was one of his most distinctive songs. It had a rock groove that also gave him more of an audience on rock radio stations. The album also included "You Are the Sunshine of My Life." This song also peaked at number one. Stevie began to tour with the Rolling Stones, and this allowed him to reach a wider audience. These two songs from this album won Stevie three Grammy Awards.
Stevie Wonder's next album, Innervisions, was released in 1973. It included "Higher Ground" and "Living for the City." His songs on this album had a number of political considerations. There were three Grammy Awards given to Wonder for this album, and the awards included Album of the Year. In this same year, Stevie Wonder was in a terrible automobile accident. A vehicle he was riding in rear-ended a flatbed truck, and it slid under the back of the truck, causing the bed to go through the windshield, and in the process, it struck Stevie in his head. He was in a coma for four days. He also lost his sense of smell partially, and had a temporary loss of his sense of taste.
In 1975, he received another Grammy Award for Fulfillingness' First Finale. At the Grammy Awards in 1976, Paul Simon thanked Stevie Wonder for not releasing an album that year. Wonder's next album was Songs in the Key of Life, and it was released in September of 1976. The album has been seen by many as one of the most accomplished albums in pop music history. The album debut straight to #1 on the Billboard charts and it remained there for 14 non-consecutive weeks. His track, "Isn't She Lovely" was written about Aisha, his newborn daughter. This album won him "Album of the Year" again and also two other Grammy Awards. For three years, Stevie Wonder took a break from recording.
It was during the 1980s that Stevie Wonder began to receive much commercial success for his albums. He had increased album sales, high profile collaborations with other artists, and a number of television appearances. In 1982, Stevie Wonder released Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium, which had four new songs on it. In 1984, Stevie Wonder released The Woman in Red, a soundtrack album, and it included the single, "I Just Called to Say I Love You," which became a #1 pop hit and R&B hit in the United States. It also won an Academy Award for the "Best Song" in 1985. His albumIn Square Circle had the pop hit, "Part-Time Lover."
Stevie Wonder had become an American icon. He was even impersonated by Eddie Murphy onSaturday Night Live. Even Stevie joined in on the jokes too. In 1987, Stevie Wonder appeared on Michael Jackson's Bad album on the duet, "Just Good Friends." This song was performed with Jackson in Sydney, Australia.
In the 1990s, Stevie Wonder released Conversation Peace and Natural Wonder.
A popular musician "Stevie Wonder" spurred a campaign to declare the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King a National holiday, and a petition gathered so many supporting signatures that it was declared the largest petition for an issue in U.S. history. January 15 is the birthday of the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was declared a holiday in 1983.
Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Leader, Humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Born on January 15, 1929.
In March of 2002, Stevie Wonder performed at the 2002 Winter Paralympics that took place in Salt Lake City. He performed in the USA part of the Live 8 series of concerts in Philadelphia on July 2, 2005. He released his first new album in ten years, called A Time to Love. The album featured appearances by Prince, En Vogue, and India.Arie. In 2006, Stevie performed the pre-game show for the Super Bowl. He sang a number of his hit singles, and his four year old son was on the drums. He also accompanied Aretha Franklin as she sang "The Star Spangled Banner." In March of 2006, Stevie Wonder received national exposure on American Idol as twelve contestants had to sing a song of his after meeting him and getting advice from him. Stevie also performed "My Love Is on Fire" from his album. He has also been featured on several rappers' albums, including Dr. Dre, Busta Rhymes, and Snoop Dogg. He also sang a duet with Andrea Bocelli on his album Amore.
Stevie Wonder performed on August 28, 2008, on the day that Barack Obana accepted the nomination of his party for President of the United States. He performed at the Democratic National Convention. In June of 2008, Stevie Wonder was working on two new projects. One was a new album called The Gospel Inspired by Lulu, and the other was Through the Eyes of Wonder. Stevie Wonder performed at the Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009
Stevie's Amazing Accomplishments
Stevie Wonder has recorded over thirty top ten hits in the United States and has won twenty-two Grammy Awards. He has also won a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been inducted into the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. He won the Polar Music Prize. He has been named the ninth greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine. His album sales have exceeded 100 million units. He is able to play the harmonica, synthesizer, piano, congas, bass guitar, drums, bongos, clavinet, organ, and melodica. During his childhood, Stevie was known for his harmonica work, but today, he is well known for his vocal ability and keyboard skills. He is the first artist from Motown and the second African American musician to win an Academy Award for the Best Original Song, and he won it for his single, "I Just Called to Say I Love You."
Stevie Wonder has been considered a major influence or idol to a number of musicians and even public figures. He has also appeared on a number of recordings by other recording artists. His songs have been characterized as being very difficult to sing. He has an amazing sense of harmony. He has melodies that make very quick and unpredictable changes. Stevie Wonder has helped bring synthesizers into popular music.
Stevie Wonder has been married two times. His first wife was Syreeta Wright, and they were married from 1970 until their divorce in 1972. In 2001, he married fashion designer Kai Milla Morris. Stevie Wonder has seven children from several relationships and his second marriage. His children are Aisha Morris, Keita Morris, Kwame Morris, Mumtaz Morris, Sophia Morris, Kailand Morris, and Mandla Kadjay Carl Stevland Morris.
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November 29, 2010
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