Stevland Hardaway Judkins, name later changed to Stevland Hardaway Morris, known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist. Blind from shortly after birth, Wonder signed with Motown Records’ Tamla label at the age of eleven, and continues to perform and record for Motown to this day.
Some of Wonder’s best known works include singles such as “Superstition”, “Sir Duke”, “I Wish” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You”. Well known albums also include Talking Book, Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life. He has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and received twenty-two Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist. Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists to celebrate the US singles chart’s fiftieth anniversary, with Wonder at number five.
Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950, being the third of six children to Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway. Owing to his being born six weeks premature, the blood vessels at the back of his eyes had not yet reached the front and their aborted growth caused the retinas to detach. The medical term for this condition is retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP, and while it may have been exacerbated by the oxygen pumped into his incubator, this was not the primary cause of his blindness.
When Stevie Wonder was four, his mother left his father and moved herself and her children to Detroit. She changed her name back to Lula Hardaway and later changed her son’s surname to Morris, partly because of relatives. Morris has remained Stevie Wonder’s legal name ever since. He began playing instruments at an early age, including piano, harmonica, drums and bass. During childhood he was active in his church choir.