Like his musical hero Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder overcame the handicap of blindness to become a towering figure in the world of popular music. A prodigiously gifted child, he had an intuitive musical gift that saw him playing piano, drums and harmonica before he had reached the age of ten. He was still only twelve when a live recording of Fingertips (Part 2) reached the top of the US charts in 1963. A string of ebullient R&B singles followed in the mid- to late 60s, with Wonder emerging as a songwriter on tracks such as Uptight (Everything's Alright). In the early 70s he pioneered the use of the synthesizer in black music, releasing two strong experimental albums before hitting gold with the glorious Talking Book. The funky Superstition and the romantic ballad You Are The Sunshine Of My Life illustrated both sides of Wonder's creative muse, which he would pursue on a string of superb albums that represent one of the greatest creative periods of any major artist in the history of music. Although Wonder continued to have hits into the 80s and 90s, his creative fire dimmed several notches. He remains one of popular music's most beloved artists, and should also be applauded for his tireless humanitarian work.
Followers: George Michael, John Legend, Jamiroquai, Luther Vandross, Prince, Whitney Houston, Will Smith, Alicia Keys, Gloria Estefan, Lenny Kravitz
Influenced By: Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, James Brown...