Stevie Wonder is one of the most famous and successful artists of the twentieth century, a master at his craft, a virtuoso in various departments, an innovator of art, and he’s one of the most awarded Grammy artists of all time. The artiste formal known as “Little Stevie Wonder”, was a pioneer and an industry mover in some of its most famous art forms such as “rhythm and blues, pop, soul, gospel, funk, and jazz.”
Stevie Wonder’s History
He was born blind to a humble background in Saginaw, Michigan, U.S, to a humble family, and he was seen as a child prodigy, bagging a record deal at the tender age of 11 in the famous Motown record label under the Tamla division. The Little Stevie Wonder was an innovator from a young age, however, he had a keen ear for sound, and he learned a lot in his formative years before he broke the Billboard 100 charts with his hit single “Fingertips”, which topped the charts, he was just 13 years old at the time.
While other teenagers were going for proms, shuffling through the education sector, or getting into little troubles, Stevie Wonder was breaking records and topping the charts with remarkable ease never before seen, hitting his critical peak in the 70s. Stevie Wonder has delved into numerous genres of music, developing a reputation for being adept at various instruments such as the harmonica, the keyboard, the drums, and a host of other sophisticated tools.
He is one of the most awarded musicians of all time, bagging a host of prestigious awards for his unrivaled talents, with the most significant achievements coming from the “rather hard to win” Grammy awards, where he is one of the most awarded solo artistes of all time, winning a staggering 22 Grammy Awards for his efforts.
With a healthy 100 million-plus records worldwide, he is also one of the best-selling solo artists of all time, and has a healthy number in streams too. He is also the “first Motown artist and second African-American musician to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song, for the 1984 film The Woman in Red”.
He is an inductee in several halls of fame such as the rock and roll hall of fame, the rhythm and blues hall of fame, and the jazz hall of fame. Simply put, the Little Stevie Wonder isn’t so little anymore, and he has the hardware to prove it. He has also influenced some of music’s biggest stars, and more will be said on that in a bit.
The Stevie Wonder Effect
Stevie Wonder got one of the greatest musical tuitions known to man, as he was a member of one of the greatest artiste rosters back in the day. He was the youngest artist in the famous Motown records, a record label that housed such luminaries as Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, the Miracles, the Temptations, and a host of other household names. He earned a seat at the table and he had collaborated with all of the above artists before he even clocked eighteen.
Stevie Wonder has been around for a while, churning out the hits every decade, and seemingly getting better with age. He has also been a significant influence in the artistry of some of today’s biggest stars, shaping the way they approach music production, musical performances, and the versatility in genres. Here are some of the biggest “new school” artists influenced by the great man of pop.
John Legend has been there, done that, and won just about everything available to win in the entertainment industry. He’s the youngest EGOT winner, meaning that he has won the Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, Oscars, and the Tony Awards. John Legend’s artistry has been significantly influenced by Stevie Wonder, as you can see parts of his artistry gotten from the great man. He is a master behind the keys, an amazing producer, and one of the best vocal talents that his generation has ever seen.
The great man of R&B, D’Angelo was heralded as the new kid on the block, seen as the natural heir to the throne when legends like Michael Jackson and Prince were bowing out of the game. His style is instantly memorable for its sex appeal, and he released one of the significant R&B albums of the late 90s. D’Angelo’s artistry owes a lot to Stevie Wonder, and he had admitted in numerous interviews the effect that listening to Stevie Wonder has on him growing up.
Many, Many Others!
Some other top-notch and world-renowned artists have been influenced in numerous ways by Stevie Wonder’s production nous, his vocal range, and his overall artistry. Some of the biggest influences include but aren’t limited to Kanye West, Travis Scott, the Jackson 5, Prince, Lionel Richie, and a host of other big names. It just goes to show the great work done by the master harmonica player Stevie Wonder. Speaking of harmonica playing, we’ll touch on that subject in a wee bit.
Famous Songs by Stevie Wonder’s Harmonica
Stevie Wonder is a talented singer and multi-instrumentalist that knows his way around the studio, he has been at the forefront of some of the biggest hits over the past four to five decades, and some of these hits owe a lot to his majestic harmonica. Here are a select few of the best of the best, hallmarks in an amazing career.
STOP TRYING TO BE GOD
This standout-off American rapper Travis Scott’s album featured five artists at the top of their respective games, but none of the features was as iconic as the appearance of Stevie Wonder’s harmonica. The track marked the latest foray into the crossover market for “Sir Duke”, and turned out to be a critical masterpiece, with critics hailing his contribution to the record, and old heads nodding their heads in approval of the old master’s nous.
His very first hit single, and the beginning of what would turn out to be a hall of fame career. The Little Stevie Wonder (as he was then known), played the bongos, and harmonica, on the track, but it was his work with the harmonica that truly stood out. Even at the tender age of thirteen, the bosses at Motown knew they had a star, and you don’t have to look further than the song personnel, as the legendary Marvin Gaye was beating the drums, with James Jamerson, Larry Moses, and Joe Swift on the bass.
Hey Harmonica Man
Aptly titled, and further proof of his nous with the harmonica. Hey, Harmonica Man was a moderate hit by the great Stevie Wonder’s standards, as it peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the track remains a staple in harmonica folklore, as it’s not all the time that you see a track titled after the instrument, more so a track composed by one of the biggest stars in the music industry. The song was released on May 21, 1964, as a single from his album “Stevie at the Beach.”
Stevie Wonder’s career has been in stages. The first stage was when he first burst out the scene as a talented child and teenager, in a grown man’s world, a time that he was undoubtedly the main draw in the remarkable assemble of talent at Motown records.
The second phase was his young adulthood stage, when he broke more records as a seasoned veteran in the game, he strayed further from Pop at this stage, and he sang about more complex themes, like love, passion, and tender affection. His third and most recent stage is the conscious veteran stage, a stage where he used his voice to raise awareness for worthy social causes such as poverty and racism.
All through his musical journey, Stevie Wonder has been backed by his trustworthy Hohner Chromonica Super 64, even though these days he’s developed a liking for the Huang harmonica. Stevie wonder has dominated the radio for decades, with hit songs like Superstition, Isn’t she lovely, Fingertips, and an array of other major hits.
He has earned a fortune in his career thus far, accumulating a net worth of nothing less than $110 Million and counting. He might have not released a solo album since 2005, but his legacy is everlasting. He’s a master at what he does, and the perfect example of perseverance and consistency!