by Stevie Wonder
"I didn't have a very normal childhood," said Stevie Wonder in an interview for the TV show Biography. The multi-talented and enthusiastic child, who was not born blind but became blind just after birth, started performing professionally at age 11. He had a hit single before he even became a teenager. When he was first on the performance circuit he was known as "Little Stevie Wonder"—because he was so ridiculously amazing onstage.
"The name Stevie Wonder came about because people were saying here was a guy playing the drums, the bongos, the harmonica, and all this stuff, and he was a little wonder," said Motown founder Berry Gordy enthusiastically in an interview. "People were calling him a little wonder, and the name just stuck."
Stevie Wonder is a colorful character, known for kindness, generosity, and openheartedness both in his lyrics and in his personal interactions. He is also known for staying awake all night, and sometimes even for days on end. Maybe that's part of why he has been so prolific throughout his career, mastering many instruments and creating hit songs in nearly every decade since the 1960s.
"Superstition" was his second #1 pop hit (his first came at 12 years old), but it was the first hit he created under his own musical control. This moment defined his career, and the song and the album, Talking Book, defined the music and mood of the 1970s. In "Superstition," as in all Stevie Wonder songs, the feeling that he takes pleasure in his musical genius is visceral. When his latest album, A Time To Love, came out in 2005, it charted at #5 in the U.S. and won Stevie yet another Grammy award (his 22nd to date), this time for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance on "From the Bottom of My Heart."
He's still doing it, and he's still reveling in it: "I'm a lover of music, constantly curious about the sounds I hear," he told Oprah in 2004. "I'm always thinking about how I can take my music to the next level. It isn't about selling millions of CDs or making millions of dollars. God has given me an incredible gift—the gift of music—and it's a blessing that's self-contained. I can go anywhere in the world with absolutely nothing and I can still find a keyboard and play."