Musical Notes — Stevie Wonder
Voiceover by Lawrence Standifer Stevens / Written by Joseph E. Casanova
Beloved entertainer Stevie Wonder holds the record for the most Grammies awarded to a male solo artist with 25, including one for 1976’s Album of the Year for the landmark, Songs in the Key of Life.
Wonder will grace the Alamo City for the first time as he brings his “Songs in the Key of Life” Performance Tour to town this fall.The live adaption of his multi-award winning collection continues with the addition of 20 North American cities including the final performance at Madison Square Garden.
Wonder’s ambitious effort included the chart-topping classics “I Wish” and “Sir Duke” as well as “Isn’t She Lovely,” which remains one of his most popular tunes.
The double LP marks the 18th release for the musical prodigy signed by Motown Records at age 11. It also achieved prominence as one of the biggest-selling and most critically-acclaimed projects of his career.
Songs in the Key of Life followed Talking Book and Innervisions as respective Album of the Year winners for 1973 and 1974.
At the 18th Annual Grammy Awards in 1976, fellow singer/ songwriter Paul Simon said, “I’d like to thank Stevie Wonder. . . “ otherwise he wouldn’t have won for Still Crazy After all These Years which included his signature “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”
One of the best things about writing the blog is rediscovering classic works. I downloaded several cuts off Songs in the Key of Life and re-realized the musical genius that is Stevie Wonder.
One track that caught me totally by surprise was “Ngiculela – Es Una Historia – I Am Singing.” The Motown legend penned some of the lyrics in Spanish and IsiZulu; a language spoken in large parts of Southern Africa.
Wonder shared the late Marvin Gaye’s need for music to speak to generations. Songs like “Village Ghetto Land,” “Black Man” and “Have a Talk with God” contributed to the political and social makeup of the decade.
Also noteworthy were “Living for the City” and “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” both culturally relevant and still sparking debate today.
For me the best number is “Another Star,” which features riffs from famous jazz/soul guitarist George Benson. Those infectious beats make me want to hit the dance floor.
Mr. Wonder, it’s about time you paid us a visit. You know, we’re gonna be singing your songs for the rest of our lives.