ACRN Celebrates: Stevie Wonder

By Max Semenczuk, Contributor
[Photo via Spotify]

Stevie Wonder still holds a surmountable name in the music industry at age 69. His name evokes feelings of nostalgia, hope and longing. Wonder began his professional career during his early teenage years—only going up from there. 

Read more: ACRN Celebrates: Richie Havens

Wonder was born May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan. He has been a musician for most of his life, first learning the harmonica by himself at age 5. The year after, his mother took notice and signed him up for piano lessons. Shortly after, he took up drums when he was 8. 

Throughout his career, Wonder has released 23 studio albums. His first record was released in 1962 when he was 12, having made his recording debut at age 11.

His most acclaimed work came out in the ’70s with records such as Innervisions, Songs in the Key of Life, Music of My Mind and Talking Book, among many other releases.

Wonder’s production style is lush, evoking the most out of both his voice and the bass guitar, but all instruments are proudly showcased in his music. His sound is reflective of the crisp, low-reverb style of production that was prominent in the ’70s and is still popular today. Songs in the Key of life, arguably Wonder’s most acclaimed and popular album, showcases the production style that he so potently employs.

Wonder’s discography is diverse; his music is not only genre-bending but also pioneering. Throughout his musical journey, Wonder has explored pop, funk, soul, R&B and jazz. In conjunction with his genre versatility, he is notorious for being a great pianist but also a talented drummer, vocalist and harmonica player.

Most notably, however, Wonder’s legacy also lies in his ability to overcome adversity—in multiple forms. Not only is he a black American, but he is also blind, and despite all that goes against him, his musical endeavors are a spectacle.

Wonder has been blind for his whole life as a result of being born six weeks premature. That stunted the growth of the blood vessels in his eyes and caused his retinas to detach. Still, Wonder leads a prosperous career and serves as an inspiration not only for racial minorities but also for those who are disabled.

Some of his standout tracks are “Superstition,” “For Once in My Life,” “Isn’t She Lovely” and “Sir Duke.” Wonder, throughout his career, has had 10 chart-topping No. 1 hit songs. Wonder also sold over 100 million records, resides within the Top 60 best selling artists of all-time list, and holds 25 Grammy awards—one of three artists to have 25.

Wonder has also played with Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson and Edwin Birdsong, as well as a multitude of other talented musicians.

It’s unlikely that Wonder will release any new material, as he hasn’t released an album since 2005’s A Time to Love, but that doesn’t discredit his musical journey that began in 1962—one that’s based on courage and inspiration, both from within and toward others.

Check out one of Stevie Wonder’s most iconic tracks, “Superstition.”

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