Stevie Wonder Part Four
While others have retired, he has continued well into the 21 century, and I’m going also into the 2000’s and 2010’s type about him, in Stevie Wonder Part Four, so come back with us, and learn more.
2000— present: Later Career
Into the 21st century, Wonder contributed two new songs to the soundtrack for Spike Lee‘s Bamboozled album (“ Misrepresented People“ and “Some Years Ago“). Wonder continues to record and perform; though mainly occasional appearances and guest performances, he did do two tours, and released one album of new material, 2005‘s A Time to Love. In June 2006, Wonder made a guest appearance on Busta Rhymes‘ album The Big Bang, on the track “Been through the Storm“. He sings there frain and plays the piano on the Dr. Dre– and Sha Money XL— produced track. He appeared again on the last track of Snoop Dogg‘s album Tha Blue Carpet Treatment,“Conversations“. The song is a remake of “Have a Talk with God“ from Songs in the Key of Life. In 2006, Wonder staged a duet with Andrea Bocelli on the latter‘s album Amore, offering harmonica and additional vocals on “Canzoni Stonate“. Wonder also performed at Washington, D.C.‘s 2006 “A Capitol Fourth“ celebration. His key appearances include performing at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Paralympics in Salt Lake City, the 2005 Live 8 concert in Philadelphia, the pre-game show for Super Bowl XL in 2006, the Obama Inaugural Celebration in 2009, and the opening ceremony of the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games inAthens, Greece.
Wonder in 2006
Wonder‘s first new album in ten years, A Time to Love, was released in October 2005 to lower sales than previous albums, and lukewarm reviews— most reviewers appearing frustrated at the end of the long delay to get an album that mainly copied the style of Wonder‘s “classic period“ without doing anything new. The first single, “So What the Fuss“, was released in April. A second single, “From the Bottom of My Heart“, was a hit on adult-contemporary R&B radio. The album also featured a duet with India Arie on the title track “A Time to Love“. By June 2008, Wonder was working on two projects simultaneously: a new album called The Gospel Inspired By Lula, which will deal with the various spiritual and cultural crises facing the world, and Through The Eyes Of Wonder, an album he has described as a performance piece that will reflect his experience as a blind man. Wonder was also keeping the door open for a collaboration with Tony Bennett and Quincy Jones concerning a rumored jazz album. If Wonder were to join forces with Bennett, it would not be for the first time; their rendition of “For Once in My Life” earned them a Grammy for best pop collaboration with vocals in 2006. Wonder‘s harmonica playing can be heard on the 2009 Grammy-nominated “Never Give You Up“,featuring CJ Hilton and Raphael Saadiq.
Barack Obama presenting Wonder with the Gershwin Prizein 2009
Wonder did a 13-date tour of North America in 2007, starting in San Diego on August 23; this was his first U.S. tour in more than 10 years. On September 8, 2008, he started the European leg of his Wonder Summer‘s Night Tour, the first time he had toured Europe in over a decade. His opening show was at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham in the English Midlands. During the tour, he played eight UK gigs; four at the O2 Arena in London (filmed in HD andsubsequently released as a live in-concert release on DVD and Blu-Ray, Live At Last, two in Birmingham and two at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester. Wonder‘s other stops in the tour‘s European leg also found him performing in the Netherlands (Rotterdam), Sweden (Stockholm), Germany (Cologne, Mannheim and Munich), Norway (Hamar), France (Paris), Italy (Milan) and Denmark (Aalborg). Wonder also toured Australia (Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane) and New Zealand (Christchurch, Auckland and New Plymouth) in October and November. His 2010 tour included a two-hour set at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, a stop at London‘s “Hard Rock Calling“ in Hyde Park, and appearances at England‘s Glastonbury Festival, Rotterdam‘s North Sea Jazz Festival, and a concert in Bergen, Norway, and a concert in Dublin, Ireland, at the O2 Arena on June 24.
He sang at the Michael Jackson memorial service in 2009, at Etta James‘ funeral, in 2012, and a month later at Whitney Houston‘s memorial service.
Wonder appeared on singer Celine Dion‘s studio album Loved Me Back to Life performing a cover of his 1985 song “Overjoyed“. The album was released in October 2013. He was also featured on two tracks on Mark Ronson‘s album Uptown Special.
In 2013, Wonder revealed that he had been recording new material for two albums, When the World Began and Ten Billion Hearts, in collaboration with producer David Foster, to be released in 2014. The albums were never released.
Wonder street art in Amsterdam, Netherlands
A prominent figure in popular music during the latter half of the 20th century, Wonder has recorded more than 30 U.S.top ten hits and won 25 Grammy Awards (the most ever won by a solo artist) as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also won an Academy Award for Best Song, and been inducted into both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters halls of fame. He has also been awarded the Polar Music Prize. American music magazine Rolling Stone named him the ninth greatest singer of all time. In June 2009 he became the fourth artist to receive the Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award.
He has had ten U.S. number-one hits on the pop charts as well as 20 R&B number one hits, and has sold over 100 million records, 19.5 million of which are albums; he is one of the top 60 best-selling music artists with combined sales of singles and albums. Wonder has recorded several critically acclaimed albums and hit singles, and writes and produces songs for many of his label mates and outside artists as well. Wonder plays the piano, synthesizer, harmonica, congas, drums, bongos, organ, melodica and Clavinet. In his childhood, he was best known for his harmonica work, but today he is better known for his keyboard skills and vocal ability. Wonder was the first Motown artist and second African-American musician to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song, which he won for his 1984 hit single “I Just Called to Say I Love You“ from the movie The Woman in Red.
Wonder receiving a standing ovation inthe East Room of the White House in 2011
Wonder‘s “classic period“ is generally agreed to be between 1972 and 1977. Some observers see in 1971‘s Where I‘m Coming From certain indications of the beginning of the classic period, such as its new funky keyboard style which Wonder used throughout the classic period. Some determine Wonder‘s first “classic“ album to be 1972‘s Music of My Mind, on which he attained personal control of production, and on which he programmed a series of songs integrated with one another to make a concept album. Others skip over early 1972 and determine the beginning of the classic period to be Talking Book in late 1972, the album in which Wonder “hit his stride“.
His classic 1970s albums were considered very influential in the music world: the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide said they “pioneered stylistic approaches that helped to determine the shape of pop music for the next decade“; RollingStone‘s 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time included four of the five albums, with three in the top 90; and in 2005, Kanye West said of his own work, “I‘m not trying to compete with what‘s out there now. I‘m really trying to compete with Inner visions and Songs in the Key of Life. It sounds musically blasphemous to say something like that, but why not set that as your bar?“