Stevie Wonder: A Tribute & Some Hope

I am committed to Stevie Wonder’s music like Stevie Wonder is committed to his braids. Growing up, I annoyed my Mama while singing along to every song on 92.3 and 105.9, songs like “Ribbon in the Sky”, “Do I Do”, and “Overjoyed”. To this day, I dream of marveling at his talent while he performs live, of sitting so close to the stage that I can see dust relaxing on his piano. It is an honor to be from the same city as this musically gifted genius.

While I have always loved Stevie’s music, its meaning has become more significant in adulthood. In the past four years, it has been a dear friend to me in the difficult and joyful times of solitude. It has strengthened my imagination for the better, sharpening my visions of the legacy that love can leave, the importance of celebration, the commonality of sadness, and the timelessness of music that is honest. Along my ongoing journey with mental health, Stevie Wonder’s masterpieces have also reminded me of hope and happiness. Of the special, soulful adventure of resonating with sounds and lyrics that someone has so wholeheartedly composed.

In tribute to Stevie Wonder, I am thrilled to share several songs that have been instrumental to my twenty-something life:

Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing (1973)

This is one of my favorite Stevie hits! It is non-stop excitement in one track, starting with the Latin-influenced beat and boisterous intro. After Stevie Wonder sings and shouts “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” enough times, you have no choice but to relax and smile.

Superwoman (1972)

On her album “Mama’s Gun”, Erykah Badu’s song, “Green Eyes”, is about love and jealousy. Each chapter of the song has a different beat; yet, all parts fold into each other beautifully. Similarly, Stevie Wonder’s “Superwoman” is one of my favorite songs to admire. For 8 minutes, he reflects on a woman named Mary. It is so gentle and crafty of a listen that time won’t press as much.

My Cherie Amour (1969)

I am a bonafide sap, the girl who sheds thug tears while listening to a heartfelt love song (Musiq Soulchild, anyone?). “My Cherie Amour” is one of those songs if you catch me on the right day.

Sir Duke (1976)

Sir Duke is marching band brilliance, an homage to music that we couldn’t forget even if we tried.

Golden Lady (1973)

I recently discovered this song. The opening sequence captivates me every time.

As (1976)

Image result for nia long and taye diggs as stevie wonder
“As” was pivotal to the film, “The Best Man”. In the movie, Nia Long and Taye Diggs star as best friends who share something a little deeper. During this college dorm flashback, they dance away to Stevie Wonder.

“As” reminds me of God’s unconditional love. Its lyrics are a declaration to love someone else forever. It inspires me to not settle for anything less in a life partner. My favorite part of the song is when Stevie’s voice gets real aggressive and uplifting:

We all know sometimes life’s hates and troubles
Can make you wish you were born in another time and space
But you can bet your life times that and twice its double
That God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed
So make sure when you say you’re in it but not of it
You’re not helping to make this earth a place sometimes called Hell
Change your words into truths and then change that truth into love
And maybe our children’s grandchildren
And their great-great grandchildren will tell
I’ll be loving you

If You Really Love Me (1971)

In this song, Stevie Wonder is fed up and tired of his romantic interest’s mind games. Somehow, this track still manages to be so upbeat and happy.

You Are the Sunshine of My Life (1972)

Radiant. This song’s title says enough on its own.

For Once in My Life (1968)

Stevie Wonder celebrates the bliss of finally loving someone who loves him back. It’s in the same thematic family as Teddy Pendergrass’ classic, “When Somebody Loves You Back”. “For Once in My Life” is one of those exhaling songs, a “With love, I can conquer the world” type of anthem.

Favorite Song that Stevie Wonder Wrote for Someone Else: I Can’t Help It (1979)

Stevie Wonder wrote this song for Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” album, and it is late ’70s perfection.

Favorite Stevie Wonder Cover: Ribbon in the Sky by Intro

In college, my friend, Darrell, introduced me to this underappreciated ’90s R&B treasure. Fun Fact: the lead singer of Intro is from the West Side of Detroit!

 

Do you have a favorite musician? In what ways has their music shaped your perspective and experiences?

Stevie Wonder: Detroit
In June, my cousin graduated from Cass Tech High School. While walking to his graduation, I was geeked to see this new Stevie Wonder mural!

 

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