Print Сite this

Stevie Wonder: The Artist’s Story

Introduction

An in-depth study of musical theory is impossible without a conjugate study of the biographies and creative paths of eminent artists in a particular field. It is paramount to recognize that the history of music is not objective but rather is written by the musicians and artists who make their daily contributions to the art in question. More specifically, the musical era of the eighteenth century is remembered primarily for Mozart, while the musical trends of the second half of the twentieth century were set by the highly famous The Beatles. Thus, a musical study should be based on placing the artist within the framework of their time and critically examining their talent in the light of current conditions and environment. Thus, one of the most popular and titled soul singers of the 20th century — continuing to create to this day — was Stevie Wonder, known primarily as a genre singer. Wonder is often spoken of as a multi-instrumental artist, virtuoso on clarinet, percussion, piano, and, most interesting for this study, the harmonica (Driscoll, 2020). Thus, it is not difficult to understand that Wonder performs in a combined genre of soul, blues, and R’n’B. This paper aims to provide an extensive and comprehensive analysis of the personality and creative path of one of the most legendary performers of our time, Stevie Wonder.

Our experts can deliver a customized essay
tailored to your instructions
for only $13.00 $11.05/page
308 qualified specialists online
Learn more

Brief Biography

The singer’s biography begins on May 13, 1950, in a small town of Saginaw, which is located in the state of Michigan bordering on Canada. It should be noted that, as in most American black families, Wonder’s childhood was not happy and potential. The future singer was the third child in a family of eight, but his birth was not successful from the beginning: Stevie was premature (Chang, 2020). As a consequence, Wonder was placed in a unique incubator for premature babies while still in the hospital, which was designed to stimulate the development of internal organs. Although this procedure helped, the prematurity severely affected the singer’s visual function. Stevie was disabled from birth due to blindness, and as a consequence, his mother had to take care of him much more than the other children. In addition, at the age of four, the future singer lost his father and moved with his mother and the rest of his siblings to criminal Detroit.

The Beginning of a Musical Career

To a certain extent, it is appropriate to note that the medical error that led to Stevie Wonder’s blindness launched the man’s musical career. Because of his inability to see, Wonder was forced from childhood to use his tactile senses and his ears: as a result, the skills of sensitive hearing and finely tuned fingers enabled Stevie to achieve a talent for using the harmonica. All of this helped Wonder achieve commensurate success in a church choir and independent study of wind instruments. It should be emphasized that the harmonica — which the boy was given by his mother — according to Stevie, was his first instrument, and only then did he learn to play the piano (Biography, n.d.). The boy’s phenomenality was quickly discovered by prominent producers. More specifically, Ronald White, one of the founders of a dark-skinned rhythm and blues music band from Detroit, heard little Stevie’s part during a Sunday worship service and arranged an audition with the general manager of Motown recording studio. In turn, the studio management immediately saw in the eleven-year-old boy a huge musical potential, and therefore signed a contract for the first records with extended harmonica solos. Interestingly, the boy’s professional pseudonym was justified by his age: Motown named Stevie as Little Stevie Wonder (Pevos, 2020). This is where Stevie Wonder’s career as a soul musician began.

Musical Path

Recording studios have been known to have a significant influence on artists’ musical output. On the one hand, thanks to the efforts and resources of a major agency, an aspiring performer increases the chance of becoming famous. However, on the other hand, often, the management of the label or music association dictates its own rules, limiting the potential freedom of creativity of the singer. This reasoning also holds true for Stevie Wonder’s professional path. Since Little Stevie Wonder became known to the public, many then-unknown compositions have been released on behalf of Motown. Such singles as “I Call It Pretty Music, But the Old People Call It the Blues,” “Little Water Boy,” and “Contract on Love” served as the starting point for the boy’s career. However, Stevie reached the peak of his young popularity with the hit “Fingertips,” which generally had no lyrical meaning (Roth, 2016). On the contrary, “Fingertips” became not only a welcome anthem for Little Stevie ascending into the serious arena but also a demonstration of his virtuoso harmonica playing. The backbone of this composition by a still twelve-year-old boy has an extended aerophone solo, intermittently replaced by Stevie’s verbal shouts.

The sixties and seventies continued Wonder’s tendency to expand his popularity and experiment with genres and instruments. Nevertheless, although Stevie tried new styles, the harmonica continued to be among the main instruments in his musical kit. The iconic works of the singer during this period include “Hey Harmonica Man,” “Pretty Little Angel,” “Where I’m Coming From.” It is essential to underline that the last work was a turning point in Stevie’s career because, after it, the twenty-year-old man left Motown and started to produce his own songs. In turn, the complete freedom of action and the absence of economic frameworks allowed Stevie to engage in conceptual projects and give himself to new trends in musical styles, among which rock. Thus, Wonder’s lyrics acquired new themes, including politics, social inequality, and mysticism (Helligar, 2021). All this leads to the conclusion of a dynamic and branching path of the soul artist, who became a central figure of the genre in his era.

It is fair to say that Stevie Wonder continued to compose and create in order to express himself and keep his sound relevant. The man released two albums — “Music Of My Mind” and “Talking Book” — in 2003, and later his services were recognized by the Grammys. Stevie also organized an American tour in 2007 in memory of his deceased mother but retired after that. By now, the elderly Wonder rarely releases new singles and lives a quiet, measured life with his new wife.

Unique Authorial Style

As could be seen from the previous descriptions, Wonder’s genre affiliation is not unambiguous. In fact, although the artist created in a soul-sounding style, he made repeated attempts to integrate rock, free jazz, or pop music into his work (Artist Profile, n.d.). A particular contribution to the uniqueness of the man’s musical style was his incredible command of the harmonica. It is safe to say that Stevie earned his legendary reputation thanks to the highly complex and dynamic parts played on the harmonica. Naturally developing the directions of soul, Wonder uses such an aerophone and integrates jazz sounds in the music: it allows you to achieve a coherent and cohesive but complex and multi-complex composition. This variety of styles also justifies Stevie’s experimentation with the type of harmonics. Although his standard instrument is a chromatic harmonica, which plays all 12 notes in an octave — including semitones — there were some episodes of diatomic harmonica use in Stevie’s music. Nevertheless, it was the chromatic harmonica that became the musician’s calling card, qualitatively differentiating him from Bob Dylan’s jazz rhythms. The unique sound, repeatedly noted by many artists and masters, is achieved due to the unique combination of glissando and vibrato in the performance of Wonder. This combination allows the melody to remain dynamic and smooth, but at the same time flirting with the listener and boldly experiment with styles.

On-Time Delivery! Get your 100% customized paper
done in
as little as 3 hours
Let`s start

Conclusion

To summarize, Stevie Wonder’s importance as a soul singer of the second half of the twentieth century should be emphasized. The man has often been called a genius and a master of multi-instrumental playing. The chromatic harmonica is deservedly symbolized with the image of Wonder since it was this instrument that gave the little boy the opportunity to get to the big stage. As a result, we can conclude that Stevie went through a dynamic, complex evolution from a disabled child from a low-income family to a world-famous soul singer.

References

Artist Profile. (n.d.). The Harmonica Company. Web.

Biography. (n.d.). Gold. Web.

Chang, R. (2020). How Stevie Wonder lost his sight. Biography. Web.

Driscoll, C. (2020). Growing up Stevie. Rolling Stone. Web.

Helligar, J. (2021). How the rage of Stevie Wonder’s ‘You Haven’t Done Nothin’’ helped shape the politics of hip-hop. Variety. Web.

Pevos, E. (2020). Motown’s Stevie Wonder turns 70: 10 videos of him you may have never seen before. Michigan. Web.

We’ll deliver a custom paper tailored to your requirements.
Cut 15% off your first order
Use discount

Roth, G. (2016). Did we mention that Stevie Wonder is also an incredible harmonica player? Slate. Web.

Cite this paper

Select style

Reference

StudyCorgi. (2023, January 15). Stevie Wonder: The Artist’s Story. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/stevie-wonder-the-artists-story/

Reference

StudyCorgi. (2023, January 15). Stevie Wonder: The Artist’s Story. https://studycorgi.com/stevie-wonder-the-artists-story/

Work Cited

"Stevie Wonder: The Artist’s Story." StudyCorgi, 15 Jan. 2023, studycorgi.com/stevie-wonder-the-artists-story/.

* Hyperlink the URL after pasting it to your document

1. StudyCorgi. "Stevie Wonder: The Artist’s Story." January 15, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/stevie-wonder-the-artists-story/.


Bibliography


StudyCorgi. "Stevie Wonder: The Artist’s Story." January 15, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/stevie-wonder-the-artists-story/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2023. "Stevie Wonder: The Artist’s Story." January 15, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/stevie-wonder-the-artists-story/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2023) 'Stevie Wonder: The Artist’s Story'. 15 January.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.