“No New Year’s Day to celebrate , No chocolate covered candy hearts to give away No first of spring, No song to sing, In fact here’s just another ordinary day”
“I just called to say I love you I just called to say how much I care I just called to say I love you And I mean it from the bottom of my heart”
I grew up listening to this beautiful & soulful romantic song from the 80’s and I have to admit for a long time I didn’t know much about the musical genius who composed & sang this song.
“Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision.”
These words aren’t just used to make an impression but these are the words of a man who used them to summarize his entire life in one line. Which is why this month we are honoring Stevie Wonder on the occasion of his 69th birthday. Stevie Wonder was a child prodigy well known to everybody as an American singer, songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist. He became blind almost immediately after his premature birth due to a condition in which the growth of the eyes is aborted and causes the retinas to detach. This condition resulted in Stevie becoming blind permanently.
“The deaf fool scaled the mountain cause he couldn’t hear people saying that it cannot be scaled.”
I don’t think Stevie Wonder ever realized that he was born with some kind of handicap because by the time he was 9 years old, he had already learnt piano, drums, harmonica and bass!! (All these instruments were self taught initially) Stevie developed a passion for singing after listening to a variety of artists on Detroit, Michigan’s, rhythm and blues radio station. This inspired him to join the local church choir which eventually led him to form a singing partnership with his friend to perform on street corners and also at parties and dances. The duo called themselves as Stevie and John. When Stevie was 11 years old, he signed a contract with the record company Motown’s Tamla labels and was given the name “Little Stevie Wonder” by the record owner Berry Gordy. By the age of 12, he delivered his first hit “Fingertips” that went on to become a major hit thus starting his journey commercially as a musician. As of today in a musical journey spanning over 50 years, Wonder has composed & sang several beautiful compositions. He has influenced every generation since the 60’s & through his compositions Wonder has been successful critically as well as commercially. He has 25 Grammy Awards to his name —the most ever won by a solo artist—and is considered to be among the best selling artists of all time.
Excerpt from one of his interview, “Many years ago, there were those who said, ‘Well, you have three strikes against you: You’re black, you’re blind and you’re poor.’ But God said to me, ‘I will make you rich in the spirit of inspiration, to inspire others as well as create music to encourage the world to a place of oneness and hope and positivity.’ I believed Him and not them!”
I am not sure if Stevie Wonder understood what being black or blind meant; in his mind he seems to be someone who is possessed with the passion for his art. And that’s what matters. In a way not being able to see, protected him from seeing it in eyes of the world that he was black or blind or poor. History has given us lot of examples of individuals who have defied the “so called” stereotypes & biases created by human beings. When Wonder was 12 years he recorded a few covers by Ray Charles – Ray Charles was another musician from the 1950’s referred to as “The Genius” who became blind by the age of 7. We all have heard of Beethoven who went deaf during his 40’s but that didn’t stop him from composing and in fact he created some of his best work during this time. There is a force that drives people towards music & compels them to the madness of creating something so beautiful that nothing ever can stop these people. Be Blind, Be deaf, Be Mute or be all of it 1. You will find yourself getting closer to the place of worship. Just like Stevie Wonder who has sought it in music. Attaching below a video of Stevie Wonder from his earlier days as a musician. (I hope you all know that I don’t mean in literal terms.)
1964 Fingertips LITTLE STEVIE WONDER