Legendary Artists: Stevie Wonder

By @TrueGodImmortal 

There are some artists who just exceed the legend label. Stevie Wonder is one of them. Hands down, one of the greatest artists of all time, Stevie has such a vast career and such a strong musical discography. Tons of classics, amazing poise, the ability to sing his ass off, play instruments, and touch your soul via the songs all the while being a blind man. That feat is completely amazing in itself. However, over the years, his legacy has truly grown into something that stands the test of time and many feel he is the quintessential artist period. With his career first starting in 1961 at the age of 11, Stevie would sign with Motown and their Tamla label before releasing a cover of Ray Charles songs and a jazz soul instrumental album with Clarence Paul before embarking onto bigger things.

Stevie, who was dubbed little Stevie Wonder at the time, released a live album that featured his first big hit "Fingertips", and would help jumpstart the success for Stevie. After this success, Stevie would hit a small stagnant period before creating the successful album "Up-Tight", featuring one of his classic singles "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" in 1966 and then he followed up that project with the fun album "Down To Earth" in the same year as well. One of my favorite songs from Stevie comes in the form of "Someday At Christmas", off the Christmas album of the very same name as well. The song always stands out as an amazing track not only for Christmas but in general. It has a pretty nice message within it as well. I truly enjoyed the song and it remains my personal favorite Christmas song.

In 1969, Stevie released "My Cherie Amour", a successful album as well that featured the iconic title track. The title track is smooth, infectious, and shows Stevie at his absolute best. Continuing his hot streak, Stevie released what I feel is his most slept on album with "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" in 1970, featuring another gem and a favorite of mine "Heaven Help Us All". There are few songs that I truly listen to and identify immensely with and this is one. The sense of unity and need for help from a higher power really resonates through Stevie's vocals. This is without a doubt one of his strongest songs in the catalog. It is truly meaningful.

Not one to sit around and wait to make music, Stevie would crank out another great album with "Where I'm Coming From", his 1971 release that features two of his strongest hits to this day, a personal favorite of mine "If You Really Love Me"(the horns are glorious) and the heartbreaking sound of "Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer". This particular album was more socially aware and featured a more conscious vibe outside of the first two singles, as Motown artists and the world alike were going through changes due to the climate of the world. In the same year, Marvin Gaye would release his classic What's Going On as well, driving home the sign of the times and marking these two albums as true measures of where music was in the early 70’s. After this album, Stevie would go through a change and experience even more artistic growth. One would have to acknowledge that, at the age of 21 now, Stevie was quite possibly one of the greatest geniuses we had ever seen in music at this point. Blessed with a songwriting and instrumental talent, Stevie was crafting classics and multiple albums per year(with the help of the Motown machine) before he even reached 22 years old. That only adds to his true greatness in some ways.

In 1972, that artistic growth shined through on Music Of My Mind, his classic album that features my 2nd favorite Stevie song of all time, "Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)", which reminds me of my grandmother and my mother still loves this song as well. The music is synth heavy, but it is always soulful and the vocals from Stevie are quite flawless. The lyrics hit hard also, with Stevie painting his picture perfectly and still adding an infectious "very well" throughout the first part of the song. The second part truly touches the soul and Stevie sings his heart out over his riffs of "I Need you baby, I need you baby" towards the end of the track. It is beauty in musical form without a doubt. My all time favorite Stevie track appears on his next album "Talking Book", which released later that year in 1972, and that song is his no. 1 hit "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life". The song is masterfully executed and holds a special place in my soul for a few personal reasons. At this point, Stevie was in his musical prime, and Talking Book features yet another classic track in "Superstition", one of his more iconic songs in his career.

In 1973, Stevie would have a very interesting yet strange year. While in his musical prime, Stevie would release yet another classic album with Innervisions,  featuring some amazing songs like "Higher Ground", "Don't You Worry Bout A Thing", "Living For The City", "All In Love Is Fair", and my favorite song on this album(and top 5 Stevie song of mine) "Golden Lady". Innervisions might be the greatest Stevie Wonder album there is. However, that same year, Stevie suffered a terrible accident that forced him to postpone his Innervisions tour and would require a long recovery as well. Stevie would bounce back strong and still keep his streak of releasing albums every year alive with his 1974 release "Fulfillingness First Finale", continuing what I felt was his musical prime. The album was very successful and featured the classics "You Haven't Done Nothin" and "Boogie On Reggae Woman". Stevie at this point was virtually unstoppable and at his musical peak.

After taking one year off from releasing albums, Stevie returned with yet another classic in 1976, the amazing "Songs In The Key of Life", which is now in the Library of Congress and preserved there. The album still holds a huge place in Stevie's discography and almost signals the end of his peak run, selling well over 10 million copies in the US alone and earning the elusive diamond certification. The album was as ambitious as it was flawless, a double album that was presented with an extra EP as well. With songs like "I Wish", "Sir Duke", "Another Star", "Black Man", "Knocks Me Off My Feet", "Pastime Paradise", "As", and my favorite song on the album "Isn't She Lovely", this album could truly be seen as Stevie's magnum opus, his holy grail and his very best. The album is ranked as one of the greatest albums in history and it would be very hard to argue against it. This signaled the end of Stevie's official peak and prime, but Stevie remained making classics in the years following.

As the 1980s kicked off, Stevie would find himself back making hits with yet another classic album in "Hotter Than July", which featured the iconic "Master Blaster", his dedication to Martin Luther King and MLK day "Happy Birthday", "All I Do", and "Lately". With all he had accomplished so far, Stevie would release a greatest hits album in 1982 and throw four "new" tracks onto the album as well. The four tracks were leftovers from his iconic music peak and they would also become hits in their own right. The flawless "Ribbon In The Sky", the jazzy "That Girl", as well as "Do I Do" all became classic songs, once again proving the power of Stevie and his music. He would release another solid album in 1985, with "In Square Circle", which featured the super amazing "Part-Time Lover" and another timeless classic "Overjoyed". Once again, Stevie found himself making platinum albums and classics, in what began to seem like yet another peak approaching. In 1987, he would release "Characters", and the album would feature the hits "You Will Know" and "Get It" featuring Michael Jackson.

As the 90s began, Stevie took more to songwriting and the background, but managed to do the entire soundtrack for the 1991 film "Jungle Fever" directed by Spike Lee. The soundtrack is still amazing to listen to and provided Stevie with yet another successful project in yet another decade. Stevie had managed to have success in the 60's, 70’s, 80's and 90's, a feat which cannot be slept on by anyone. It's truly amazing. After his 1995 album release for "Conversation Peace", which featured the Grammy winning single "For Your Love", Stevie would take take a break from album releasing and just tour and do special appearances on award shows for the most part. With his legacy firmly in tact, Stevie didn't have anything left to prove, but his love for music finally drove him to make another album, the 2005 release, "A Time To Love", his last and most recent solo album. That album would be certified gold, proving that Stevie still had the ability to draw in listeners and be successful.

With a career spanning over 50 years, over 20 plus albums, countless greatest hits albums, tons of hit and classic singles, and a catalog that truly can rival any other legend and is better than most anyway, Stevie Wonder is the epitome of a legend. He is the epitome of classic soul and the epitome of what a true artist is. Reflect on greatness. Praise the legends.



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