Smorgasbord Music Column – William Price King Meets Music Legends – #Jazz #Soul #Stevie Wonder – The Early Years

It is nine years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. We continue in 2023 with series sharing the lives and music of some of the great names in music over the last century

Welcome to the new series of musical legends and now we explore the life and music of the incredible Stevie Wonder, whose songs have played a massive role in our lives for the last fifty years..

Music Legends – Stevie Wonder – The Early Years.

When we listen to the timeless quality of Stevie Wonder’s music it is hard to remember that in fact he was a child prodigy, and that many of his iconic hits were recorded when he was just a young teenager of 12 years old. He is considered to be the most successful and commercial musical performer of the last fifty years. He signed to Motown at the age of 11 and recorded throughout most of his career.

Some of his more memorable songs are You are the Sunshine of my Life, I Just Called to Say I Love You, Uptight and For Once in my Life.

He has recorded more than 30 U.S. Top Ten hits and received 25 Grammy Awards making him one of the most awarded male solo artists. One Academy Award Best Original Song  for The Woman in Red He has sold over 100 million records worldwide and is one of the top 60 best-selling artists.

His life has not been just about music with his active involvement in political causes and in 2009 he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Stevie Wonder the early years.

He was born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13th 1950 in Michigan, the third of six children of Calvin Judkins and songwriter Lula Mae Hardaway. He was born prematurely with an eye disorder associated with pre-term babies and this condition was accelerated when he received too much oxygen in an incubator that led to blindness.

His mother and father split up in 1954 and Lula Hardaway took all the children to Detroit. Stevie was introduced to musical instruments at an early age including the piano, harmonica and drums. He was soon performing as part of a duo, Stevie and John on street corners and occasionally at parties and dances.

Stevie was only 11 years old when he was discovered by Ronnie White of the Motown band The Miracles when he performed his own composition called Lonely Boy. This was followed by an audition with the founder of Motown, Berry Gordy who signed the young musician to a five year record deal under the name of Little Stevie Wonder. With his royalties being paid into a trust fund until he was 21 years old and with a weekly amount to cover expenses and tuition, Stevie began his amazing career.

“Fingertips” (1963) was the first live, non-studio recording to reach number one on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in the US since 1952. This piece, originally, was a jazz instrumental recorded for Wonder’s first studio album, “The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie.” Little Stevie Wonder was just 12 years old. Stevie Wonder 

However, at thirteen years old, Stevie’s voice was beginning to change and his next few recordings were not successful. This put the Motown executives in a dilemma and there was talk of cancelling his recording contract. Despite some exposure in two films where Stevie appeared as himself in 1964, things did not appear to be getting any better.

However Sylvia Moy songwriter and the first woman to write and produce for Motown acts, persuaded Berry Gordy to give him another chance. This would lead to a successful collaboration between Sylvia and Stevie.

This included the tracks Uptight and My Cherie Amour.

“Uptight (Everything’s Alright” was a true Motown classic in the sense that it defined the Motown sound in its glory. Its strength lay in the sophistication of the musical arrangement. Stevie’s voice had developed into the voice we know today and his harmonica playing was superb. This song was the first Stevie Wonder hit single to be co-written by the artist and it peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in early 1966, at the same time reaching the top of the Billboard R&B Singles chart for five weeks.

Following this new surge in his career, Wonder went on to have a number of other hits during the mid-1960s, including With a Child’s Heart, Blowing in the Wind, a Bob Dylan cover, co-sung by his mentor, producer Clarence Paul and the jubilant I Was Made to Love Her. The 1968 album For Once in My Life offered even more successful singles with the title track, Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day and You Met Your Match, with Wonder serving as co-writer on all three songs. Rather than rest on his laurels, the hard-working Wonder, who would go on to study classical piano, pushed to improve his musicianship and song writing capabilities.

“For Once In My Life” was written by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden in 1966 for Motown Records’ Stein & Van Stock publishing company, and first recorded by Barbara McNair. Stevie’s up tempo version of this song, recorded in 1967, was highly successful, peaking at number-two on both the Billboard Pop Singles and Billboard R&B Singles charts and was a top-three hit in the UK in late 1968 and early 1969.

Buy the music of Stevie Wonder: Amazon

Additional sources: Wikipedia

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson


As always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.


56 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Music Column – William Price King Meets Music Legends – #Jazz #Soul #Stevie Wonder – The Early Years

  1. I have always been a fan of SW it’s so nice to get to know the backstory of a person’s journey to fame that’s why I love these posts keep them coming…Thank you 🙂 xx

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Stevie wonder was always a favourite artist from my college days.
    I’m loving learning about the musicians you feature and am looking forward to learning more about Stevie wonder.
    He is certainly a ‘wonder’.
    thanks William and Sally for educating me.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I knew he was talented, and I recognise and love nearly all of these songs, but I had no idea that he started out professionally at age 11. Phenomenal! Many thanks. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – March 13th – 19th 2023- Spring, Big Band Era, Stevie Wonder, A-Z Food, Short story, Podcast, Bloggers, Books Reviews, Digestion and Funnies | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  5. Stevie is one day older than I am! I saw him in my hometown of Huntington, WV, must have been ’64. He was SO good. He played Fingertips. I’ve been a fan ever since. I especially enjoy the early years of the artists you highlight in your wonderful series. Stevie Wonder was no exception. Thank you Sally and William!

    Liked by 1 person

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