There are few men in the history of humanity that I consider to be both genius and prophetic spiritual messingers. There are even fewer among them who are creative musically as well. In a world that has suffered so many ills and continues falling into a cosmic pit, Stevie Wonder has inspired all who have given ear to his poetic and prophetic messages. His spiritual connection can not be ignored as one listens to the lyrics woven together with threads musical magic. It is music that opens the blinded eyes of those who already have sight and reveals a world they fail to appreciate...a world of Love, Truth, Compassion, Respect and Kindness. He forces the innermost conscience to deal with mistakes of the past and look to the future possibilities of human goodness and reconciliation. If only we could see and really hear with our hearts. The next time you listen to the songs of Stevie Wonder, close your eyes and listen with your heart. Maybe you will be better able to see.
Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950 as the third of six children to Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway. The product of a six week premature birth, 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 known as retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP, and while it may have been exacerbated by the oxygen pumped into his incubator, this treatment was not the primary cause of his blindness.
When Wonder was four, his mother left his father and moved herself and her children to Detroit. Wonder's mother changed her name back to Lula Hardaway and she later renamed her son's surname to Morris partially because of relatives, Morris has remained Wonder's legal name since. Morris began playing instruments at a young age including the piano, harmonica and drums. During his early childhood he was active in his church choir. Wonder also learned to play the bass during his early years.
Discovery and early Motown recordings
In 1961, Ronnie White of The Miracles gives credit to his brother Gerald White for persistently nagging him to come to his friend's house 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.