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Wonder promotes message of peace

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A wonderful world
  • Stevie Wonder talks to CNN about his new U.N. role
  • The multi award-winning Grammy artist is a new Messenger of Peace
  • Wonder will fight for the rights of 650 million disabled people worldwide

London, England (CNN) -- Stevie Wonder has had more than 30 U.S. top ten hits and has won 22 Grammy Awards -- more than any other male artist.

Blind from birth, Wonder's music has always reflected his concern with humanitarian and social issues.

On Thursday, he joined the prestigious list of U.N. Messengers of Peace and will focus on the battle for disabled rights.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment, calling Wonder a "musical genius" and "great humanitarian, who has campaigned against apartheid, for children in need, and for persons with disabilities."

Speaking about his new U.N. role Wonder told CNN's Becky Anderson: "It's about that ten percent of the world that suffers with a disability. It's about sounding that alarm off that says to the 90 percent: it's time to get it together for those of us with disabilities."

Asked by Anderson what phrase which would encapsulate his mission Wonder said: "We can never let our fears put our dreams to sleep."

He said the 90 percent of people who aren't disabled should learn not to fear disability, whatever form it takes and called for a stop to an "ignorance to the highest point of ridiculousness."

Wonder hopes that politicians will listen to him in his new role as a U.N. messenger. "If you love my music that much, then care about those ten percent as well. There are 650 million disabled people in the world. Lets do something about that. Lets make a change," he said.

The popularity of Wonder's music at the White House is well known. Indeed, President Obama says he owes a lot to his music.

When awarding Wonder the U.S.'s highest award for pop music: the Library of Congress' Gershwin prize earlier this year the president said: "Michelle might not have dated me, we might not have married. The fact that we agreed on Stevie was the essence of our courtship."

Wonder isn't surprised to see a black man in the White House.

"That whole place of feeling that you can't have a black president or a female president, it's always been about people's inability to think out of the box that's always been backward in the first place."

The only downside from Wonder's new role is for his fans. His new album "Gospel Inspired By Lula" wont be coming out until next May he told Anderson.

He admitted that after all these years in the business he still gets nervous and still hits the odd bum note.

"We did a show recently where my voice cracked and I said 'we gotta do that again!' We all laughed about it."

Does he have a favorite song from his own catalogue?

"I always use this thing that Duke Ellington would say. He used to say that 'I haven't written it yet.' I guess I would say the same. I would say this to you: whatever your favorite is, is my favorite too."