Stevland Hardaway Morris (previously Judkins; born May 13, 1950), better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist. Blind since shortly after birth, Wonder signed with Motown Records' Tamla label at the age of eleven, and continues to perform and record for Motown to this day.
Among Wonder's best known works are singles such as "Superstition", "Sir Duke", "I Wish" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You". Well known albums also include Talking Book, Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life. He has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and received twenty-two Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist. Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists to celebrate the US singles chart's fiftieth anniversary, with Wonder at number five.
Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950, being the third of six children to Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway. Owing to his being born six weeks premature, the blood vessels at the back of his eyes had not yet reached the front and their aborted growth caused the retinas to detach. The medical term for this condition is retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP, and while it may have been exacerbated by the oxygen pumped into his incubator, this was not the primary cause of his blindness.
When Stevie Wonder was four, his mother left his father and moved herself and her children to Detroit. She changed her name back to Lula Hardaway and later changed her son's surname to Morris, partly because of relatives. Morris has remained Stevie Wonder's legal name ever since. He began playing instruments at an early age, including piano, harmonica, drums and bass. During childhood he was active in his church choir.
Ronnie White of The Miracles gives credit to his brother Gerald White for persistently nagging him to come to his friend's house in 1961 to check out Stevie Wonder. Afterward, White brought Wonder and his mother to Motown Records. Impressed by the young musician, Motown CEO Berry Gordy signed Wonder to Motown's Tamla label with the name Little Stevie Wonder. Before signing, producer Clarence Paul gave Wonder his trademark name after stating "we can't keep calling him the eighth wonder of the world". He then recorded the regional Detroit single, "I Call It Pretty Music, But the Old People Call It the Blues", which was released on Tamla in late 1961. Wonder released his first two albums, The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie and Tribute to Uncle Ray, in 1962, to little success.
A prominent figure in popular music during the latter half of the 20th century, Wonder has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and won twenty-two Grammy Awards (the most ever won by a solo artist) as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also won an Academy Award for Best Song, and been inducted into both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters halls of fame. He has also been awarded the Polar Music Prize. American music magazine Rolling Stone named him the ninth greatest singer of all time. In June 2009 he became the fourth artist to receive the Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award.
He has ten U.S. number-one hits on the pop charts as well as 20 R&B number one hits, and album sales totaling more than 100 million units. Wonder has recorded several critically acclaimed albums and hit singles, and writes and produces songs for many of his label mates and outside artists as well. Wonder plays the piano, synthesizer, harmonica, congas, drums, bass guitar, bongos, organ, melodica, and clavinet. In his childhood, he was best known for his harmonica work, but today he is better known for his keyboard skills and vocal ability. Wonder was the first Motown artist and second African American musician to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song for his 1984 hit single "I Just Called to Say I Love You" from the movie The Woman in Red.
Wonder has been married twice: to Motown singer Syreeta Wright from 1970 until their divorce in 1972; and since 2001, to fashion designer Kai Milla Morris. He has seven children from his two marriages and several relationships.
His daughter Aisha Morris (born on February 2, 1975, with Yolanda Simmons as mother) was the inspiration for his hit single "Isn't She Lovely." Aisha Morris is a singer who has toured with her father and accompanied him on recordings, including his 2005 album, A Time 2 Love. Wonder has two sons with Kai Milla Morris; the older is named Kailand and he occasionally performs as a drummer on stage with his father. The younger son, Mandla Kadjay Carl Stevland Morris, was born May 13, 2005, his father's 55th birthday. In May 2006, Wonder's mother died in Los Angeles, at the age of 76. During his September 8, 2008 UK concert in Birmingham, he spoke of his decision to begin touring again following his loss. "I want to take all the pain that I feel and celebrate and turn it around".
The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie Wonder
02. The Square
03. Soul Bongo
04. Manhattan At Six
06. Some Other Time
08. Session Number 112