Here is a look at the life of Stevie Wonder, singer, songwriter, producer and activist.
Birth date: May 13, 1950
Birth place: Saginaw, Michigan
Birth name: Stevland Hardaway Judkins
Father: Calvin Judkins
Mother: Lula Mae Hardaway
Marriages: Tomeeka Robyn Bracy (2017-present); Karen “Kai” Millard Morris (2001-October 5, 2015, divorced); Syreeta Wright (September 14, 1970-1972, divorced)
Children: with Tomeeka Robyn Bracy: Nia and Zaiah; with Kai Millard Morris: Mandla Kadjaly and Kailand; with Melody McCulley: Mumtaz; with Yolanda Simmons: Keita and Aisha; Mothers’ names unavailable publicly: Kwame and Sophia
Education: Michigan School for the Blind
Nominated for 74 Grammy Awards and won 25, plus received an honorary award.
Nominated for one Academy Award with one win.
Born prematurely; doctors believe he was blinded when he was accidentally given too much oxygen in his incubator.
Learned to play piano, drums and harmonica by age 9.
His first stage name was Little Stevie Wonder.
Wonder is one of six children. His siblings use the last name Hardaway. According to his mother’s authorized biography, Wonder’s surname was legally changed to Morris, “an old family name,” when he signed with Motown, and Berry Gordy gave him the stage name Wonder.
1961 - Signs a contract with Motown.
1963 - First chart-topper, “Fingertips, Part 2,” and the album “The 12 Year Old Genius,” are released and reach number one.
1971 - Contract with Motown expires. Wonder negotiates for complete artistic control before re-signing.
August 6, 1973 - Is in a near-fatal car accident.
1974 - Wins Grammy Awards for:
- Best Rhythm & Blues Song - “Superstition.”
- Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male - “Superstition.”
- Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male - “You are the Sunshine of My Life.”
- Album of the Year - “Innervisions” (he received two awards, one as artist and one as producer).
1975 - Wins Grammy Awards for:
- Best Rhythm & Blues Song - “Living For the City.”
- Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male - “Boogie on Reggae Woman.”
- Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male - “Fulfillingness’ First Finale.”
- Album of the Year - “Fulfillingness’ First Finale” (he received two awards, one as artist and one as producer).
1977 - Wins Grammy Awards for:
- Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male - “I Wish.”
- Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male - “Songs in the Key of Life.”
- Best Producer of the Year.
- Album of the Year - “Songs in the Key of Life” - (he received two awards, one as artist and one as producer).
1980 - Releases the song “Happy Birthday,” a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and spearheads a campaign to make King’s birthday a national holiday.
1982 - Collaborates with Paul McCartney on the song, “Ebony and Ivory.” The song spends several weeks at the top of the charts.
1985 - Wins an Academy Award for Best Original Song, “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from the film, “The Woman in Red.”
1986 - Wins Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male for “In Square Circle.”
1987 - Wins a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal - “That’s What Friends Are For” - with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Elton John.
1989 - Is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
1996 - Wins Grammy Awards for:
- Best Rhythm & Blues Song - “For Your Love.”
- Best Male R&B Vocal Performance - “For Your Love.”
1996 - Receives the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
1999 - Wins Grammy Awards for:
- Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals - “St. Louis Blues” with Herbie Hancock and Robert Sadin.
- Best Male R&B Vocal Performance - “St. Louis Blues.”
1999 - Is a Kennedy Center Honoree.
2002 - Is inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
2003 - Wins a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal - “Love’s in Need of Love Today” - with Take 6.
2004 - Receives the Billboard Century Award.
2006 - Wins Grammy Awards for:
- Best Male Pop Vocal Performance - “From the Bottom of My Heart.”
- Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals - “So Amazing” - with Beyoncé.
February 5, 2006 - Performs during the pregame ceremonies at Super Bowl XL.
2007 - Wins a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals - “For Once in My Life” - with Tony Bennett.
2007 - Receives the first American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) American Troubadour Award.
February 25, 2009 - President Barack Obama presents Wonder with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress.
December 2009 - Is designated as a UN Messenger of Peace in honor of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
March 6, 2010 - Receives the National Order of Arts and Letters medal from the cultural minister of France. The honor was originally given to Wonder in 1981, but schedule conflicts delayed the presentation.
September 20, 2010 - Speaks before the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization about the need for better copyright laws to improve access to audiobooks for visually impaired people.
June 13, 2011 - Is inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame.
November 11, 2014 - The White House announces that Wonder is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
February 10, 2015 - “Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life – An All-Star Grammy Salute” takes place at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles with artists such as Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and John Legend performing songs from Wonder’s abundant music catalog.
July 6, 2019 - Announces during a concert in London that he will undergo a kidney transplant in September.
October 13, 2020 - Releases two new songs with the launch of his new label, So What the Fuss Records. The move marks a break from Wonder’s nearly 60-year career with Motown.
January 18, 2021 - Releases a video in support of the formation of the first federal racial justice commission tasked with examining the country’s history of systemic racism against Black people, addressing inequities and backing efforts to provide reparations for slavery.