Stevie Wonder was born Steveland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, in Saginaw, Michigan. He became blind as a result of receiving too much oxygen in the incubator as a premature baby. Stevie Wonder’s mother, Lula Mae Hardaway left her husband and moved herself and her children to Detroit.
Due to her leaving Lula Hardaway Judkins changed her name to Lula Hardaway and changed Stevie’s surname to Steveland Morris. Stevie is now a famous singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who recorded his first hit single in 1963.
Over the next decade, Wonder recorded several hit songs, including “Living in the City,” “Boogie on a Reggae Woman” and “Isn’t She Lovely.” In 1971, Wonder, who had begun writing his own music, negotiated a new contract with Motown that gave him almost total control over his records and greatly increased his royalty rate.
Over the course of four outstanding albums, Talking Book (1972), Innervisions(1973), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974) and Songs in the Key of Life (1976), Wonder created some of the most indelible songs in popular music history.
On August 6, 1973 Stevie Wonder was in a car accident. The twenty-three year old Stevie Wonder was in the passenger seat of a 1948 Dodge Flatbed Truck; he was sleeping and had his headphones on, the driver distracted by something, and failed to notice the truck ahead of them and crashed.
This sent Stevie Wonder into a coma for several days. He made a successful recovery and in 1974 released Fullfillingness’ First Finale and which song topped number one on the Billboard Pop Charts was the political song, You Haven’t Done Nothing.
In 1982, Wonder teamed up with Paul McCartney for the No. 1 single “Ebony and Ivory.” The 1980s also saw Wonder, who’s never been afraid to tackle social issues through his music; successfully spearhead a movement to create a national holiday recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Wonder, who has been married twice and has seven children, has been honoured with numerous awards.
He has won 25 Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1996). In 1989, Wonder was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1982, Wonder released a retrospective of his 1970s work with Stevie Wonder’s Original Musiquarium, which included four new songs: the ten-minute funk classic “Do I Do” (which featured Dizzy Gillespie), “That Girl” (one of the year’s biggest singles to chart on the R&B side), “Front Line”, a narrative about a soldier in the Vietnam War that Wonder wrote and sang in the first person, and “Ribbon in the Sky”, one of his many classic compositions.
He also gained a No. 1 hit that year in collaboration with Paul McCartney in their paean to racial harmony, “Ebony and Ivory”.
On February 23, 2009, Wonder became the second recipient of the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for pop music, honoured by President Barack Obama at the White House.
On March 6, 2010, Wonder was appointed a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand. Wonder had been due to be invested with this honour in 1981, but scheduling problems prevented this from happening. A lifetime achievement award was also given to Wonder on the same day, at France’s biggest music awards.