Stevie Wonder is an American singer and songwriter who has been known as a child prodigy and musical genius throughout his lengthy career. Although blind, Wonder never ceases to amaze audiences of all ages with his ability to create melodies that were not only timeless but also brilliant.
With music from a variety of genres such as jazz, soul, funk, and many more, people often wonder what makes Stevie Wonder so great. Below are some interesting facts about this dazzling American musician.
Stevie Wonder isn’t his Real Name
Stevie Wonder was born with the name Stevland Hardaway Judkins, although some reports list his last name as Morris. In Saginaw, Michigan on May 13, 1950, Wonder made his appearance to parents Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway.
After moving to Detroit, and realizing his musical abilities at a young age, he was dubbed with the name Little Stevie Wonder, which later became just Stevie Wonder.
2. He Was Not Born Blind
Although being blind from a very young age, Stevie Wonder was not born with blindness. It was not until after he was born prematurely that he was placed in an incubator that produced too much oxygen which resulted in him being blind.
3. Stevie Wonder was a Child Prodigy
Having shown an early interest in music, Stevie Wonder proved to be a brilliant musician by teaching himself to play multiple instruments before the age of ten.
These instruments which would only be a start for this genius included the harmonica, piano, and also drums.
4. Motown Records Named Stevie Wonder
Ronnie White of the Motown group called The Miracles discovered Stevie Wonder, eleven years old at the time, and then set him up with an audition for Motown Records.
It was during this audition with Berry Gordy that the musical genius was not only signed to the label but also renamed Little Stevie Wonder.
5. Little Stevie Wonder and Billboard
Although his first two debut albums, his first album being A Tribute to Uncle Ray, in which he performed cover songs from Ray Charles, and The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie didn’t do as well as expected, Stevie Wonder was still thought of as a child prodigy that had a big future ahead of him.
With his new name, Little Stevie Wonder became the youngest musician in history to have a number one song on the Billboard Top 100. His song, “Fingertips, Part 2” from the live album, The 12-Year-Old Genius, made it to the top of several charts in 1963.
6. Stevie Wonder Temporarily Lost Some of His Other Senses
In 1973, Stevie Wonder was involved in a horrific car accident that left him temporarily without his sense of smell and taste. Within a year, it returned.
7. Rednow Eivets
Stevie Wonder’s ninth studio album, Eivets Rednow, was released in 1968 as an instrumental compilation demonstrating his ability to play multiple instruments.
Interestingly enough, the name of the album Eivets Rednow is his name spelled backward.
This album was reissued sometime later due to some fans not realizing it was a Stevie Wonder release.
The new albums came with the phrase, “How Do You Spell Stevie Wonder Backwards” printed on the corner.
8. Stevie Wonder Sings Duets
Although Stevie Wonder had many accomplishments in his solo career, he performed duets with many other artists over the years.
Artists such as Paul McCartney, Dionne Warwick, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and many more.
In addition to duets, he also performed in groups with such musical greats as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, and Marvin Gaye.
9. Stevie Wonder Sings at Funerals for Close Friends
Stevie Wonder is not only one of the most phenomenal singers/songwriters of all time, but he is also one that is considered to be a friend to many.
Over the years he has performed at several funerals of some other musical greats.
Wonder the honor of performing at funerals for some of the most well-known artists in their time such as Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Etta James, and a few others.
Additionally, he performed and spoke at the funeral for John Conyers, who he considered to be “a friend and a hero.”
10. Stevie Wonder’s Net Worth Today
Stevie Wonder’s net worth is estimated to be around $110 million.
11. Stevie Wonder’s Role in Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday As a Holiday
Along with many others, Stevie Wonder advocated for Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday to be declared a national holiday. Wonder’s contribution to the cause was his song, “Happy Birthday.”
In addition to the song, Wonder also was instrumental in organizing the Rally for Peace Conference in 1981. It was a short two years later that it was approved.
12. Stevie Wonder has had Numerous Top Albums
With his twenty-three studio albums, three soundtrack albums, four live albums, and eleven compilations, Stevie Wonder has had a busy and successful career.
Here are some of the top albums from his long career of entertainment:
- Uptight — 1966
- For Once in My Life — 1968
- My Cherie Amour — 1969
- Where I’m Coming From — 1971
- Talking Book — 1972
- Music of My Mind –1972
- Innervisions — 1973
- Fulfillingness’ First Finale — 1974
- Songs in the Key of Life — 1976
- The Woman in Red (Soundtrack) — 1984
- A Time to Love — 2005
13. Stevie Wonder Has Been Married a Few Times
Stevie Wonder has been married three times, with his first marriage to Syreeta Wright from 1970-1972.
She was a well-known Motown singer who worked with Wonder on many occasions, even though they divorced only two years after tying the knot.
His second marriage, in 2001, to Kai Milliard, who was a fashion designer, lasted quite a bit longer than his first. Although they divorced in 2012, the details were not made public by mutual agreement.
In 2017, Stevie Wonder went on to marry Tomeeka Robyn Bracy after having a relationship for several years prior.
14. Stevie Wonder Has 9 Children
Through his marriages and other relationships, Stevie Wonder became a father several times over the years.
He is reported to have a total of nine children, with the first and the last having about forty years between them.
His children, although many are not in the spotlight, are Aisha and Keita who was born out of Stevie Wonder’s relationship with Yolanda Simmons.
Mumtaz was the third child, whose mother was Melody McCulley.
Sophie and Kwame, who were Stevie Wonder’s fourth and fifth children, were born out of a relationship with a woman who has remained undisclosed.
During his marriage to Kai Milliard, Stevie Wonder welcomed two additional children, Kailand and Mandla.
Finally, in his current marriage, he has fathered two children, Zaiah and Nia.
15. Stevie Wonder Participates in Advocacy Work
Most people recognize the name Stevie Wonder, no matter their age, as being one of the greatest and most versatile musicians of all time.
But did you also know that Stevie Wonder is known for being an activist as well?
He has been involved with many organizations that are focused on bringing awareness about various social issues such as famine, AIDS research, and research for the blind community.
Stevie Wonder was named the United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2009 for his advocacy work on making services for the blind and those with disabilities more accessible for all.
He participated with Elton John and Gladys Knight on the campaign for Aids Research by performing on the “That’s What Friends Are For” charity album.
Additionally, he also gave his time to perform on the “We Are the World” campaign for famine relief in Africa.
It is clear that Stevie Wonder is not only dedicated to his music but also has a passion for helping people by supporting causes that are important to society.
16. Stevie Wonder Has Received Many Awards and Honors
In his career that has spanned more than fifty years, Stevie Wonder has been honored with many awards and accolades.
Many of these awards are related to his music and some to his dedication to his advocacy work.
For his music, Stevie Wonder was recognized with twenty-five Grammy Awards for such categories as Best Vocalist in a variety of genres and areas, Best Producer, and Album of the Year.
In 1996, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Stevie Wonder won an Academy Award for Best Song in 1985 which honored his song, “I Just Called To Say I Love You.”
Additionally, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983.
Along with many honorary degrees from some of the most prestigious universities such as Brown, Tulane, and Yale, Stevie Wonder was recognized and honored by many organizations over his vast career.
His awards also included the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama in 2014.
17. The Greatest Songs of Stevie Wonder
While Stevie Wonder has been successful in his career, there are some albums and songs that stand out more than others.
At least ten of his songs made it to the number one spot on the Billboard Top 100 list, while others were on the chart in various other positions.
Of the ten songs on the Billboard chart,
Here is a list of those 10 hits:
- “Fingertips–Pt. 2”–as Little Stevie Wonder–1963
- “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”–Stevie Wonder–1973
- “You Haven’t Done Nothin’”–Stevie Wonder–1974
- “Sir Duke”–Stevie Wonder–1977
- “I Wish”–Stevie Wonder–1977
- “Ebony and Ivory”–Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder–1982
- “That’s What Friends Are For”–Dionne & Friends–1986
In addition to the Billboard chart-topper songs, Stevie Wonder also is known for other great songs throughout his career:
- “Blowin’ in the Wind” — 1966
- “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” — 1972
- “Living for the City” –1973
- “Boogie on Reggae Woman” — 1974
- “I Wish” — 1976