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Friday, May 13, 2016

RECOGNIZING STEVIE WONDER ON HIS 66th BIRTHDAY


DID YOU KNOW THAT STEVIE WONDER STOPPED HIS CAREER FOR 3 YEARS IN ORDER TO SPEARHEAD MAKING MARTIN LUTHER KING'S BIRTHDAY A HOLIDAY?




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"Stevie Wonder met Dr. King when he was 15 years old and briefly shook his hand. He was on a tour when he heard of Dr. King's assassination. 
[Some time after MLK's funeral,] Wonder put his career on hold, led rallies from coast to coast and galvanized millions of Americans with his passion and integrity.

But it took 15 years.



Wonder had kept in touch with Coretta Scott King, regularly performing at rallies to push for the holiday. He told a cheering crowd in Atlanta in the summer of 1979, “If we cannot celebrate a man who died for love, then how can we say we believe in it? It is up to me and you.” 


Years earlier, Wonder had composed “Happy Birthday,” a song celebrating King’s life, dedicating the song and his next album to the cause. 



Originally he was going to record himself singing the traditional song to King but Wonder didn’t know the music, so he “wrote the hook for a different ‘Happy Birthday.’” But Stevie held onto it until just the right time as the movement for Dr. King’s holiday got to it’s height and made it the centerpiece of his next album, Hotter Than July. 


The record’s sleeve design featured a large photograph of King with a passage urging fans to support the holiday bill: “We still have a long road to travel until we reach the world that was his dream. We in the United States must not forget either his supreme sacrifice or that dream.”




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On Stevie Wonder, the man himself
Due in part to his innate talent, but also because of his deep commitment to his craft, Stevie Wonder faced the difficulty of staying relevant as a musician as he grew from boy to man. In 1971, Wonder, who had begun writing his own music, negotiated a new contract with Motown that gave him almost total control over his records and greatly increased his royalty rate.
It was an unprecedented concession by Gordy, but, artistically, it was just what Wonder needed. As the 1970s unfolded, the musician went through an unrivaled period of production.

Over the course of four outstanding albums,TalkingBook (1972), Innervisions (1973), Fulfillingness' First Finale (1974) and Songs in the Key of Life (1976), Wonder created some of the most indelible songs in popular music history. The collection included a number of hugely popular singles, including "Living in the City," "Boogie on a Reggae Woman" and "Isn't She Lovely." In all, Wonder captured 15 Grammy Awards during the decade.


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