Welcome to the new series of musical legends and William Price King is going to take us through the life and music of Stevie Wonder, whose songs have played a massive role in our lives for the last fifty years.. Who has not ended the evening on the dance floor to one of his tracks or even taken our first wedding dance? I am personally going to enjoy this walk (dance) down memory lane.
Time to hand over to William to take us through 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. 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.
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: https://www.amazon.com/Stevie-Wonder/e/B000AQ0PZO
Additional sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevie_Wonder
About William Price King
William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.
His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.
William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking
William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.
Connect to William
Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
Previous Legends can be found here:
You will find the previous artists.. Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Kiri Te Kanawa in this directory.
And for the Jazz in this directory.
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the show.. Please feel free to share.