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Biography Stevie Wonder

2009 Gershwin Prize Winner

Born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950, Stevie Wonder became blind shortly after birth. He learned to play the harmonica, piano and drums by age 9. By the time he was 10, his singing and other musical skills were known throughout his neighborhood, and when the family moved to Detroit, impressed adults made his talents known to the owners of Motown Records, who gave him a recording contract when he was age 12.

His early hits included “Fingertips,” “Uptight (Everything’s All Right)” “For Once in My Life,” “My Cherie Amour,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours,” and “If You Really Love Me.” He undertook the study of classical piano, and later, music theory, and beginning in 1967, he began writing more of his own material. In the early 1970s, Wonder toured with the Rolling Stones and had major hits with the songs “Superstition” and “You are the Sunshine of My Life.”

In the mid-70s, his album “Songs in the Key of Life” topped the charts for 14 weeks. Over the years Stevie Wonder has garnered 25 Grammy Awards, as well as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. He collected an Academy Award for the 1984 hit “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from the film The Woman in Red. In 1989, he was inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame. In 1999, Stevie became the youngest honoree of the Kennedy Center Honors. He was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1983, and in 2004 he won the Johnny Mercer Award in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding creative work.

In 2005, the Library of Congress added Stevie Wonder’s 1976 double album “Songs in the Key of Life” to the National Recording Registry, which recognizes recordings that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.”

Related Resources

Sheet Music

The richness of the Library’s sheet music collection is to a large degree the result of Copyright Deposit. For years, composers and songwriters were required to deposit sheet music, lead sheets, or other written transcripts of their music when registering their works. The Copyright law changed in 1978 to allow claimants to submit recordings instead of written material. These images are just a sample of the materials – manuscripts and sheet music – that previous Gershwin Prize winner Stevie Wonder submitted for Copyright registration over the years.

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Selected Works at the Library of Congress