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Stevland was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1950, the third of six children of Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway, a songwriter. He was born six weeks premature which, along with the oxygen-rich atmosphere in the hospital incubator, resulted in retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a condition in which the growth of the eyes is aborted and causes the retinas to detach; so he became blind. When he was four, his mother divorced his father and moved to Detroit with her children. She changed her name back to Lula Hardaway and later changed her son's surname to Morris, partly because of relatives. Wonder has retained Morris as his legal surname. He began playing instruments at an early age, including piano, harmonica and drums. He formed a singing partnership with a friend; calling themselves Stevie and John, they played on street corners, and occasionally at parties and dances.
In 1954, his family moved to Detroit, where the already musically inclined Stevie began singing in his church's choir; from there he blossomed into a genuine prodigy, learning piano, drums, and harmonica all by the age of nine. While performing for some of his friends in 1961, Stevie was discovered by Ronnie White of the Miracles, who helped arrange an audition with Berry Gordy at Motown. Gordy signed the youngster immediately and teamed him with producer/songwriter Clarence Paul, under the new name Little Stevie Wonder. Wonder released his first two albums in 1962: A Tribute to Uncle Ray, which featured covers of Wonder's hero Ray Charles, and The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie, an orchestral jazz album spotlighting his instrumental skills on piano, harmonica, and assorted percussion. Neither sold very well, but that all changed in 1963 with the live album The 12 Year Old Genius, which featured a new extended version of the harmonica instrumental "Fingertips." Edited for release as a single, "Fingertips, Pt. 2" rocketed to the top of both the pop and R&B charts, thanks to Wonder's irresistible, youthful exuberance; meanwhile, The 12 Year Old Genius became Motown's first chart-topping LP.
During 1964, Wonder appeared in two films as himself, Muscle Beach Party and Bikini Beach, but these were not successful either. Sylvia Moy persuaded label owner Berry Gordy to give Wonder another chance. Dropping the "Little" from his name, Moy and Wonder worked together to create the hit "Uptight (Everything's Alright)", and Wonder went on to have a number of other hits during the mid-1960s, including "With a Child's Heart", and "Blowin' in the Wind", a Bob Dylan cover, co-sung by his mentor, producer Clarence Paul. He also began to work in the Motown songwriting department, composing songs both for himself and his label mates, including "The Tears of a Clown", a No. 1 hit for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
In 1968 he recorded an album of instrumental soul/jazz tracks, mostly harmonica solos, under the title Eivets Rednow, which is "Stevie Wonder" spelled backwards. The album failed to get much attention, and its only single, a cover of "Alfie", only reached number 66 on the U.S. Pop charts and number 11 on the US Adult Contemporary charts. Nonetheless, he managed to score several hits between 1968 and 1970 such as "I Was Made to Love Her", "For Once in My Life" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours". A number of Wonder's early hits, including "My Cherie Amour", "I Was Made to Love Her", and "Uptight (Everything's Alright)", were co-written with Henry Cosby.
In September 1970, at the age of 20, Wonder married Syreeta Wright, a songwriter and former Motown secretary. Wright and Wonder worked together on the next album, Where I'm Coming From; Wonder writing the music, and Wright helping with the lyrics. They wanted to "touch on the social problems of the world", and for the lyrics "to mean something" 1971 proved a turning point in Wonder's career. On his 21st birthday, his contract with Motown expired, and the royalties set aside in his trust fund became available to him. A month before his birthday, Wonder released Where I'm Coming From, his first entirely self-produced album, which also marked the first time he wrote or co-wrote every song on an LP (usually in tandem with Wright), and the first time his keyboard and synthesizer work dominated his arrangements.
Wonder did not immediately renew his contract with Motown, as the label had expected; instead, he used proceeds from his trust fund to build his own recording studio and to enroll in music theory classes at USC. He negotiated a new deal with Motown that dramatically increased his royalty rate and established his own publishing company, Black Bull Music, which allowed him to retain the rights to his music; most importantly, he wrested full artistic control over his recordings, as Gaye had just done with the landmark What's Going On.
Freed from the dictates of Motown's hit-factory mindset, Wonder had already begun following a more personal and idiosyncratic muse. One of his negotiating chips had been a full album completed at his new studio; Wonder had produced, played nearly all the instruments, and written all the material (with Wright contributing to several tracks). Released under Wonder's new deal in early 1972, Music of My Mind heralded his arrival as a major, self-contained talent with an original vision that pushed the boundaries of R&B. The album produced a hit single in the spacy, synth-driven ballad "Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)," but like contemporary work by Hayes and Gaye, Music of My Mind worked as a smoothly flowing song suite unto itself. Around the same time it was released, Wonder's marriage to Wright broke up; the two remained friends, however, and Wonder produced and wrote several songs for her debut album.
For the follow-up to Music of My Mind, Wonder refined his approach, tightening up his songcraft while addressing his romance with Wright. The result, Talking Book, was released in late 1972 and made him a superstar. Song for song one of the strongest R&B albums ever made, Talking Book also perfected Wonder's spacy, futuristic experiments with electronics, and was hailed as a magnificently realized masterpiece. Wonder topped the charts with the gutsy, driving funk classic "Superstition" and the mellow, jazzy ballad "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," which went on to become a pop standard; those two songs went on to win three Grammys between them. Amazingly, Wonder only upped the ante with his next album, 1973's Innervisions, a concept album about the state of contemporary society that ranks with Gaye's What's Going On as a pinnacle of socially conscious R&B. The ghetto chronicle "Living for the City" and the intense spiritual self-examination "Higher Ground" both went to number one on the R&B charts and the pop Top Ten, and Innervisions took home a Grammy for Album of the Year. Wonder was lucky to be alive to enjoy the success; while being driven to a concert in North Carolina, a large piece of timber fell on Wonder's car. He sustained serious head injuries and lapsed into a coma, but fortunately made a full recovery.
Wonder's next record, 1974's Fulfillingness' First Finale, was slightly more insular and less accessible than its immediate predecessors, and unsurprisingly, imbued with a sense of mortality. The hits, however, were the upbeat "Boogie On, Reggae Woman" (a number one R&B and Top Five pop hit) and the venomous Richard Nixon critique "You Haven't Done Nothin'" (number one on both sides). It won him a second straight Album of the Year Grammy, by which time he'd been heavily involved as a producer and writer on Syreeta's second album, Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta. Wonder subsequently retired to his studio and spent two years crafting a large-scale project that would stand as his magnum opus. Finally released in 1976, Songs in the Key of Life was a sprawling two-LP-plus-one-EP set that found Wonder at his most ambitious and expansive. Some critics called it brilliant but prone to excess and indulgence, while others hailed it as his greatest masterpiece and the culmination of his career; in the end, they were probably both right. The hit "Isn't She Lovely," a paean to Wonder's daughter, became something of a standard. Not surprisingly, Songs in the Key of Life won a Grammy for Album of the Year; in hindsight, though, it marked the end of a remarkable explosion of creativity and of Wonder's artistic prime.
Having poured a tremendous amount of energy into Songs in the Key of Life, Wonder released nothing for the next three years. When he finally returned in 1979, it was with the mostly instrumental Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants, ostensibly the soundtrack to a never-released documentary. Although it contained a few pop songs, including the hit "Send One Your Love," its symphonic flirtations befuddled most listeners and critics. It still made the Top Ten on the LP chart on Wonder's momentum alone -- one of the stranger releases to do so. To counteract possible speculation that he'd gone off the deep end, Wonder rushed out the straightforward pop album Hotter Than July in 1980. The reggae-flavored "Master Blaster (Jammin')" returned him to the top of the R&B charts and the pop Top Five, and "Happy Birthday" was part of the ultimately successful campaign to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday (Wonder being one of the cause's most active champions). Artistically speaking, Hotter Than July was a cut below his classic '70s output, but it was still a solid outing; fans were so grateful to have the old Wonder back that they made it his first platinum-selling LP.
In 1981, Wonder began work on a follow-up album that was plagued by delays, suggesting that he might not be able to return to the visionary heights of old. He kept busy in the meantime, though; in 1982, his racial-harmony duet with Paul McCartney, "Ebony and Ivory," hit number one, and he released a greatest-hits set covering 1972-1982 called Original Musiquarium I. It featured four new songs, of which "That Girl" (number one R&B, Top Five pop) and the lengthy, jazzy "Do I Do" (featuring Dizzy Gillespie; number two R&B) were significant hits. In 1984, still not having completed the official follow-up to Hotter Than July, he recorded the soundtrack to the Gene Wilder comedy The Woman in Red, which wasn't quite a full-fledged Stevie Wonder album but did feature a number of new songs, including "I Just Called to Say I Love You." Adored by the public (it was his biggest-selling single ever) and loathed by critics (who derided it as sappy and simple-minded), "I Just Called to Say I Love You" was an across-the-board number one smash, and won an Oscar for Best Song.
Wonder finally completed the official album he'd been working on for nearly five years, and released In Square Circle in 1985. Paced by the number one hit "Part Time Lover" -- his last solo pop chart-topper -- and several other strong songs, In Square Circle went platinum, even if Wonder's synthesizer arrangements now sounded standard rather than groundbreaking. He performed on the number one charity singles "We Are the World" by USA for Africa and "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne Warwick & Friends, and returned quickly with a new album, Characters, in 1987. While Characters found Wonder's commercial clout on the pop charts slipping away, it was a hit on the R&B side, topping the album charts and producing a number one hit in "Skeletons." It would be his final release of the '80s, a decade capped by his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
New studio material from Wonder didn't arrive until 1991, when he provided the soundtrack to the Spike Lee film Jungle Fever. His next full album of new material, 1995's Conversation Peace, was a commercial disappointment, thought it did win two Grammys for the single "For Your Love." That same year, Coolio revived "Pastime Paradise" in his own brooding rap smash "Gangsta's Paradise," which became the year's biggest hit. Wonder capitalized on the renewed attention by cutting a hit duet with Babyface, "How Come, How Long," in 1996. During the early 2000s, Motown remastered and reissued Wonder's exceptional 1972-1980 run of solo albums (Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants excepted) and also released The Definitive Collection, a representative single-disc primer.
In 2005, after a decade had transpired without a new studio album, Wonder released A Time to Love, which was bolstered by collaborations with Prince and Paul McCartney, as well as one with daughter and "Isn't She Lovely" inspiration Aisha Morris. His far-reaching influence continued to be felt through samples, cover versions, and reinterpretations, highlighted by Robert Glasper Experiment and Lalah Hathaway's Grammy-winning version of "Jesus Children of America." Well into the late 2010s, Wonder continued to appear on albums by other artists, including Snoop Dogg, Raphael Saadiq, and Mark Ronson. All the while, Wonder regularly toured. From November 2014 through 2015, he celebrated the approaching 40th anniversary of Songs in the Key of Life with lengthy set lists that included all 21 songs of the classic album.
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Stevie Wonder broke a three-year silence, one that followed a series of six classic albums released within six years, with this double album, the score/soundtrack to a little-seen environmental documentary directed by Wild Bunch co-screenwriter Walon Green. From the release of Songs in the Key of Life through the release of Plants, Wonder had been active, actually, but only as a collaborator, working with Ramsey Lewis, the Pointer Sisters, Minnie Riperton, Syreeta, Ronnie Foster, and Michael Jackson. Even so, three years was a considerable lag between albums. Anticipation was so high that this release peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 and R&B album charts. It quickly slipped to footnote status; when Wonder’s 1972-1980 albums were reissued in 2000, it was left out of the program. Plants is a sprawling, fascinating album. Though it is dominated by synthesizer-heavy instrumental pieces with evocative titles, there is a handful of full-blown songs. The gorgeous, mostly acoustic ballad “Send One Your Love” was a Top Ten R&B single, while the joyous “Outside My Window” registered in the Top 60. Beyond that, there’s the deep classic “Come Back as a Flower,” a gently lapping, piano-led ballad featuring Syreeta on vocals. Otherwise, there are playfully oddball tracks like “Venus’ Flytrap and the Bug,” where Wonder chirps “Please don’t eat me!” through robotizing effects, and “A Seed’s a Star,” which incorporates crowd noise, a robotized monologue, and a shrieking Tata Vega over a funkier and faster version of Yellow Magic Orchestra. The album is not for everyone, but it suited its purpose and allowed its maker an amount of creative wiggle room that few major-label artists experience.
Stevie Wonder - Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants (flac 485mb)
01 Earth's Creation 4:06
02 The First Garden 2:33
03 Voyage To India 6:23
04 Same Old Story 3:45
05 Venus' Flytrap And The Bug 2:24
06 Ai No, Sono 2:05
07 Seasons 2:53
08 Power Flower 5:31
09 Send One Your Love (Music) 3:05
10 Race Babbling 8:51
11 Send One Your Love 4:02
12 Outside My Window 5:29
13 Black Orchid 3:48
14 Ecclesiastes 3:44
15 Kesse Ye Lolo De Ye 3:00
16 Come Back As A Flower 3:23
17 A Seed's A Star And Tree Medley 5:41
18 The Secret Life Of Plants 4:28
19 Tree 5:55
20 Finale 6:47
Stevie Wonder - Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants (ogg 213mb)
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Four years after the pinnacle of Stevie Wonder's mid-'70s typhoon of classic albums, Hotter Than July was the proper follow-up to Songs in the Key of Life (his Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants concept record was actually a soundtrack to an obscure movie that fared miserably in theaters). It also found Wonder in a different musical climate than the one that savored his every move from 1972 to 1977. Disco and new wave had slowly crept their way into the mainstream record-buying public, and hindered the once-ample room for socially and politically charged lyrics. However, Wonder naysayed the trends and continues to do what he did best. Solid songwriting, musicianship, and production are evident in the majority of Hotter Than July. Wonder also carries on his tradition of penning songs normally not associated with his trademark sound, from the disco-tinged "All I Do" (originally planned to be released by Tammi Terrell almost ten years previously) to the reggae-influenced smash "Master Blaster (Jammin)," which went straight to the top of the R&B charts. While admittedly there are a few less-than-standard tracks, he closes the album on an amazing high note with one of the most aching ballads in his canon ("Lately") and a touching anthem to civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King, Jr. ("Happy Birthday"). While most definitely not on the same tier as Innervisions or Songs in the Key of Life, Hotter Than July is the portrait of an artist who still had the Midas touch, but stood at the crossroads of an illustrious career.
Stevie Wonder - Hotter Than July (flac 282mb)
01 Did I Hear You Say You Love Me 4:07
02 All I Do 5:06
03 Rocket Love 4:40
04 I Ain't Gonna Stand For It 4:39
05 As If You Read My Mind 3:37
06 Master Blaster (Jammin') 5:07
07 Do Like You 4:26
08 Cash In Your Face 4:01
09 Lately 4:04
10 Happy Birthday 5:57
Stevie Wonder - Hotter Than July (ogg 115mb )
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Stevie Wonder's career in the 1980s was a source of frustration to the fans he had earned in the '60s and '70s. In 1982, there were a few new songs on a greatest-hits album and a duet with Paul McCartney. Then came this soundtrack to a Gene Wilder comedy that was simultaneously more of a pop vocal album than most soundtracks and yet less than a full-fledged Wonder record. The gold-selling number one hit that resulted was the sappy "I Just Called to Say I Love You," a formulaic TV commercial-in-the-making. "Love Light in Flight" also hit, and the album featured Dionne Warwick on two duets and one solo. This was a pleasant record, but slight, and after four years, Wonder fans wanted more than that.
Stevie Wonder - The Woman In Red (OST) (flac 253mb)
1 The Woman In Red 4:38
2 It's You (feat. Dionne Warwick) 4:56
3 It's More Than You (Instrumental) (feat. Ben Bridges)3:15
4 I Just Called To Say I Love You 6:17
5 Love Light In Flight 6:54
6 Moments Aren't Moments (feat. Dionne Warwick) 4:33
7 Weakness (feat. Dionne Warwick) 4:13
8 Don't Drive Drunk 6:33
. Stevie Wonder - The Woman In Red (OST) (ogg 100mb)
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Although it went platinum, nothing stands as better evidence of how cyclical the pop experience is than the response to In Square Circle. The best surprise is no surprise. There are the usual radio-friendly uptempo treats ("Part-Time Lover" and "Go Home"), ultra-romantic ballads ("Overjoyed," "Whereabouts"), message songs ("Spiritual Walkers", "It's Wrong (Apartheid)"), a good old-fashioned funk throwdown ("I Love You Too Much"), and even a west-coast version of "Livin' For The City" (the bouncy but sad "Land of La La"). The synthesizers this time have more of a digital sheen, while the drum machine programming provides a perfect landscape for 80s radio playlists without resorting to that loud, cheesy electro-snare sound. Seems like the only thing that's missing from this 80s album is the required blazing guitar solo that seemed to dominate uptempo music from this period. Although this Grammy-winning album isn't Songs In The Key Of Life, this album is a pleasure because it shows a master at work who skillfully changes with the times while still being true to himself.
Stevie Wonder - In Square Circle (flac 276mb)
01 Part-Time Lover 4:09
02 I Love You Too Much 5:30
03 Whereabouts 4:17
04 Stranger On The Shore Of Love 5:01
05 Never In Your Sun 4:07
06 Spiritual Walkers 5:12
07 Land Of La La 5:14
08 Go Home 5:18
09 Overjoyed 3:42
10 It's Wrong (Apartheid) 3:29
.Stevie Wonder - In Square Circle (ogg 112mb)
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