Stevie Wonder

Johnny Mercer Award

When Stevie Wonder began recording in 1962, he was only 11 years old. Over the past 40 years, Wonder has been one of the most admired musicians and songwriters in contemporary music. 

In 1965, he began a run of U.S. Top 40 hits that continued unbroken for over six years. By 1971, he had pioneered the use of the synthesizer in black music on both Where I’m Coming From and Music Of My Mind, and helped usher in a new era of soul/R&B.

His albums Talking Book, Innervisions,and Songs In The Key of Life gave us some of the more enduring songs like “Superstition,” “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life,” “Living For The City” and “Higher Ground.” In 1982, he composed the soundtrack music for the film The Woman In Red, which yielded his biggest-selling single to date, “I Just Called To Say I Loved You.”

Wonder’s status as an elder statesman of black music, and a champion of black rights, was boosted by his campaign in the early 80’s to have the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrated as a national holiday in the USA. This request was granted by President Reagan, and the first Martin Luther King Day was celebrated on January 15, 1986 with a concert at which Wonder topped the bill. His collaborations with other artists included work with Paul McCartney, which produced the enormous hit, “Ebony And Ivory,” Gary Byrd, Michael Jackson, and Eurythmics, and on the benefit records by “USA For Africa” and “Dionne Warwick & Friends.”