Musician. Born Stevland Hardaway Judkins (later Stevland Morris) on May 13, 1950, in Saginaw, Michigan. Blind as a result of receiving too much oxygen in the incubator as a premature baby, Stevie showed an early gift for music, first with a church choir in Detroit, where he and his family had moved to when he was four years old, and later with a bevy of instruments, including the harmonica, piano, and drums, all of which he taught himself before the age of ten.
He was just 11 years old when he was discovered by Ronnie White of the Motown band, the Miracles. An audition followed with Motown founder, Berry Gordy Jr., who didn't hesitate to sign the young musician to a record deal. In 1962, the newly renamed Little Stevie Wonder, working with a Motown songwriter, released his debut album, Little Stevie Wonder the 12 Year Old Genius.
The record, which included the hit "Fingertips", was an immediate hit, but rather than rest on his laurels the hard working Wonder, who would go on to study classical piano, pushed to improve his musicianship and songwriting capabilities. After dropping "Little" from his stage name in 1964, Wonder churned out the successful single, "Uptight (Everything's Alright)".
Due in part to his own innate talent, but also his deep commitment to his craft, Wonder managed the difficulty of staying relevant as a singer and musician as he went from boy to man. In 1971, Wonder, who'd begun writing his own music, negotiated a new contract with Motown that gave him almost total control over his records and greatly increased his royalty rate.
It was an unprecedented concession by Gordy, but artistically it was just what Wonder needed. As the 1970s unfolded Wonder went through an unrivaled period of production. Over the course of four outstanding albums, Talking Book (1972), Innervisions (1973),Fulfillingness' First Finale (1974), and Songs in the Key of Life(1976), Wonder created some of the most indelible songs in popular music history. The collection included a number of hugely popular singles such as "Living in the City", "Boogie on a Reggae Woman", and "Isn't She Lovely". In all Wonder captured 15 Grammies during the decade.
By those incredible lofty standards, the 1980s weren't nearly as successful for Wonder. Still, he proved to be a musical force, producing a selection of hits that included the soundtrack single "I Just Called to Say I Love You" for the Gene Wilder film, The Woman in Red (1984). Like so much of Wonder's work, the song crossed racial lines, paving the way for it to become Motown's biggest hit all time, internationally. The single
also won Wonder an Oscar.
In addition, Wonder teamed up with Paul McCartney for the number one single, "Ebony and Ivory" in 1982.
The 1980s also saw Wonder, who's been unafraid to tackle social issues through his music, successfully spearhead a movement to create a national holiday recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King.
In recent years: Wonder's studio production has slowed. His most recent album, A Time to Love, was released in 2005, following a ten-year hiatus.
Over the course of his long career, Wonder, who has been married twice and has seven children, has been honored with numerous awards. He has won 25 Grammys, a number that includes his Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1989 he was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. More recently Wonder was recognized with the Second Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2009.