1. Stevie Wonder featuring Prince and En Vogue
So What the Fuss
Born Steveland Judkins in 1950 Michigan, we know him as Stevie Wonder. Placed in an incubator immediately after premature birth, baby Steveland was given too much oxygen, causing his permanent blindness. Despite this, he began piano at age seven and had mastered the drums and harmonica by nine. After moving to Detroit in 1954, he joined a church choir, where gospel music balanced Ray Charles’ R&B influence on Wonder’s music. Wonder’s heightened awareness of sound helped him create vibrant, colourful music teeming with life and ambition. In 1961 Berry Gordy signed Steveland to Motown Records, renaming him ‘Little Stevie Wonder’. In 1963 the release of Fingertips (Part 2) established his commercial success and Motown quickly marketed him as the 12-year old genius.
Wonder scored a world-wide hit in 1965 with the dance-orientated Uptight (Everything’s Alright), beginning a run of top 40 US hits which continued, unbroken for over six years.
His contract with Motown expired in 1971. Wonder did not renew it, instead he financed the recording of his own material on two albums, playing almost all the instruments himself, and experimenting with ambitious musical forms. He pioneered the use of synthesisers in black music changing the face of R&B. His kaleidoscope of contrasting textures and organic warmth brought R&B to the forefront of the music scene.
In 1973 Stevie was seriously injured in a car accident, tingeing subsequent work with the awareness of mortality. The double album Songs in the Key of Life (1976), is widely regarded as his most ambitious work confirming his status as one of the most admired musicians and songwriters of contemporary music and his biggest selling, across-the-board number one, Oscar winning single was the sentimental ballad I Just called to say I Love You. He has collaborated with Paul McCartney, producing the cloying but enormous hit Ebony and Ivory, as well as Gary Byrd, Michael Jackson and the Eurythmics.
Like his inspiration Ray Charles, he had a voracious appetite for many kinds of music, his best were richly eclectic, soul, funk, rock & roll, alley-style pop, jazz and reggae. They weren’t just stylistic either, Wonder took it all and forged his own personal form of expression.
Stevie is making music history once more with his landmark music video for his new song, So What the Fuss. For the first time in music history, a second video with a descriptive audio track, narrated by Busta Rhymes is available. ‘Until now music videos have been very one dimensional for those who are blind. Now all music fans will be able to apply their vision to my video thanks to the great narration by Busta. The entire concept is indicative of what happens when you go beyond the status quo and open yourself up to what’s possible.’
This long awaited new single is the first release from Stevie in nearly 10 years. Featuring Prince on guitar and En Vogue as the guest background vocalists, the main thrust of So What the Fuss is a funky arrangement. The chorus won’t fit on Stevie’s shelf of bonafide classics, but you’ll be too busy wriggling to care.
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