When it comes to the world of entertainment, we’ve all heard the question; why is it that actors, musicians and artists get paid so highly? Many of us feel that it is doctors and engineers who should be at the top of the pay scale. However, if you look a little closer you will find that it is these very entertainers that save our lives every single day through their art.
Let’s talk about one such man, whose art and music made our drab lives worth living for well over a decade.
He was born in Saginaw, Michigan six weeks earlier than he was due.
On May 13th, 1950, baby Stevland came into this world. He was born with an eye disorder that led to complete blindness after he received too much oxygen on his incubator.
Stevland was a gifted child and loved music. He first began singing with a church choir based in Detroit, Michigan. By the time he reached the age of 10, he had already taught himself how to play the piano, drums and harmonica.
Stevland was only 11 years old when he was discovered by Ronnie White, the co-founder of The Miracles band. His natural talent and musical timing earned him a record deal with Motown Records.
Around 1962, he was working with Ronnie and other renowned musicians on his first ever instrumental album—a testimony to his remarkable abilities as a musician.
Inklings of Fame
Stevland won a first number 1 on the RnB and pop music charts with his single called Fingertips. However, that didn’t stop him from studying music. He worked hard on his songwriting abilities—even though he could not read sheet music or see any of his instruments.
He released music and co-wrote many of his songs throughout the 1960s. However, it was the 70s that was the defining era of his career.
The Golden Era
Stevland worried about staying relevant in a cut-throat music industry that banked on his “special ability” to make music as a blind child. As he grew older, he struggled to remain relevant.
Nonetheless, Stevland’s label took note of his work ethic and believed him worthy of a new contract. He re-signed with Motown and continued making music during the 70s.
His album, Where I’m Coming From was a look into his personal life and struggles. Perhaps what made the album all the more valuable was that Stevland wrote almost every song on it. Following the remarkable success of Where I’m Coming From, Stevland wrote and produced four back to back albums—etching his name in the history books.
Known best for his funky jam “Superstition” Stevland Hardaway Judkins took up the stage name, Stevie Wonder when he first began his music career.
Despite his inability to see and read musical notation, he was able to feel, create and speak music to audiences all over the globe.
Stevie Wonder continues to serve as an inspiration to many contemporary singers and songwriters who struggle to read sheet music or understand musical notation.