Stevie Wonder at the U.C. in October

Stevie Wonder at the U.C. in October

Stevie Wonder is one of the most iconic figures in the history of music & entertainment.  With his 25 Grammy Awards (the most ever by a solo male artist), 30+ top ten hits & 100 million albums and singles sold, his resume speaks for itself.  In 1989, Stevie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  He is also known as an activist for political causes, which includes a campaign in 1980 to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a holiday in the U.S.  In addition to his already impressive list of accomplishments, in 2009, Stevie was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
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Stevie Wonder takes the stage during one of three surprise promotional concerts on August 17. Image source: gothamist.com

Stevie is preparing to hit the road for 2 months on his Songs In the Key of Life tour which begins on September 30 in Montreal.  He played 3 free pop-up shows on the East coast (Washington DC, Philadelphia & New York) August 17 to celebrate & help promote the tour.  Not only did he perform 8 hits from the legendary album, but he also gave a nod to modern pop culture by quoting Kendrick Lamar & shouting, "We gon' be be alright!" & singing a parody of The Weeknd's smash hit "Can't Feel My Face."  Wonder used his stage time not only to show his interest in today's pop culture & crack jokes, he addressed some more serious subjects like gun control, bullet accountability & the underprivileged.  He even changed the lyrics to a song specifically to call attention to the fact that "Village Ghetto Land" still exists in America 40 years after he sang about starving children & purchased police officers.  During his interview with Billboard, he was adamant about a few topics, like criminal reform.  He told Billboard, "I think the judicial system as a whole is jacked up in this country, it needs an overhaul, a fix.  When you put people that have done very small crimes in the same prison as a person who has done a hard, life crime, it's ridiculous and unacceptable.  So then people who've done a little thing, they're in a situation where they become hardened criminals being around others like that.  People don't care, they just want to be protected, but they're making it worse."

Stevie Wonder performing at 1 of 3 pop-up shows on August 17. Image source: blog.wsj.com

Stevie reminisced & shared some memories from his past with the crowd, he also hinted that he may have some new material in the future.  "I'm listening to a little bit of everything," Wonder said while speaking about current music.  "I like Kendrick's album a lot, and I like The Weeknd a lot, too.  I love music.  I love change.  I'm challenged always by the new.  In the new, there's something that's you in there.  I don't ever feel intimidated.  I don't ever think, 'Wow Stevie, you're so great!' I think 'God, I thank you every day for allowing me to be alive.'"  You can still hear Stevie's influence in music today, from Pharrell to Jamiroquai to Kanye West.  You can hear Stevie when you listen to Pharrell's drumming & melodies, while Kanye West's early work has Wonder's soul-driven sound.  30 years after Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder collaborated to create the No. 1 hit "Ebony and Ivory", Paul gave Stevie a new track to work with him on.  After listening to the song for 10 minutes, Stevie understood it perfectly & knew exactly what to do.  Within 20 minutes, Stevie belted out a magnificent solo, McCartney said, "When you listen you just think, 'How do you come up with that?' It's because he's a genius, that's why."

Stevie Wonder performs during his Songs in the Key of Life Performance Tour at Central Park SummerStage on August 17, 2015 in New York City. Image source: billboard.com

Stevie said this is the final time he will perform this album in its entirety in the United States.  Don't miss your chance to hear one of the best-selling & most critically acclaimed records of all time.  Tickets for the show at the United Center on October 16 can be purchased here. Image source: thedailybeast.com
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