Born in Saginaw, Michigan on 13 May 1950, Stevie Wonder (born Steveland Judkins) was not born blind. The blindness happened shortly afterwards as a result of having received too much oxygen in the hospital incubator (Stevie spent a total of 52 days in an incubator).
His family moved to Detroit when he was three, and Wonder was only 11 when Ronnie White of The Miracles brought him to the attention of the Motown label after hearing him singing in a gospel choir.
He had just turned 13 when Fingertips – Part 2 swept to the top of the American charts.
A concurrent album prophetically titled The 12-Year-Old Genius also made #1. Eleven more Top 10 singles, including Uptight, I Was Made To Love Her and For Once In My Life.
The best soul album of 1970, Signed, Sealed and Delivered, went almost unnoticed, even though it contained three hit singles. The next album, Where I’m Coming From, received even less attention despite its radical departure from precedent.
Wonder’s 1972 tour with The Rolling Stones introduced him to a huge white audience, but this period was difficult, with his marriage ending, followed by a near-fatal car crash on 6 August 1973. He suffered severe head injuries and spent four days in a coma.
Nevertheless, his super-stardom continued through the seventies with hit albums like Songs In The Key Of Life and Hotter Than July, and his 1984 chart-topping single I Just Called To Say I Love You showed undiminished strength.
Throughout the early 70s, Wonder practically swept all possible Grammys, winning Best R & B Artist, Best Album, Best Song, Best Male Vocal, etc. Stevie amassed numerous awards and was recently awarded the Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
However, many believe his masterpiece to be 1976’s double album, Songs in the Key of Life. It is certainly his most polished and musically varied work. His 1976 Motown record deal was worth $13 million – the largest ever at that time.