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Stevie Wonder is known as one of the most creative musical geniuses of the late 20th century. He is a blind prodigy whose career began before he was a teenager. His body of work spans decades, and he remains one of the most influential musicians of all time. Here are 10 facts about his life and career:
1. Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw, Michigan May 13, 1950 and given the name Steveland Hardaway Judkins. He was six weeks premature. Being given too much oxygen caused him to develop retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) which caused his retinas to detach, thus making him blind. He was the third of six children.
2. Wonder learned piano, harmonica, drums, and bass at an early age and first auditioned for Motown in 1961 at age 11. He was signed to Motown’s Tamla label and was given the name Little Stevie Wonder.
3. He recorded his first hit single in 1963 entitled “Fingertips.” The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. He was just 13 years old which made him the youngest artists ever to top the chart. The single also hit No. 1 on the R&B chart which was the first time a song had topped both charts simultaneously.
4. Wonder renegotiated his contract with Motown in 1971 gaining total control over his records and increasing his royalty rate.
5. Wonder won 15 Grammy Awards during the 1970s and produced such hits as “Living in the City,” Boogie on a Reggae Woman,” and “Isn’t She Lovely.”
6. Stevie Wonder has been married twice and has seven children.
7. Wonder wrote the song “Isn’t She Lovely,” to celebrate the birth of his daughter Aisha.
8. Wonder achieved his greatest fame in 80s through his charity work, high-profile collaborations, political impact, and television appearances.
9. Wonder has performed at the funerals of such musical icons as Michael Jackson, Etta James, and Whitney Houston.
10. Wonder has won a total of 25 Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and he also won the Second Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2009.