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'Real Stevie Wonder' Appears Sincere, Older Than His 17 Years

Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder


March 13, 1970


A 17-year-old blind singer who is wise beyond his years—that is Stevie Wonder.

Stevie and his troupe had just arrived in Beaumont Tuesday from a night club engagement in Montreal when this reporter spoke with him.

Resting before a 5 p.m. rehearsal for Tuesday’s concert, Stevie sat around his hotel room laughing and joking with a roomful of strangers. The black soul singer came across warm and sincere.

“So you want to know the real side of Stevie Wonder,” he said. I asked few questions, trying to get beyond the shallow question-answer bit. 

What was your biggest record, someone asked. “For Once in My Life” was my biggest seller, he said.

How does he get psyched up for a concert? “Most people don’t believe me when I tell them I don’t need pills or booze,” he laughed. “When it’s time for a concert I just sing. That’s all there is to it.”

Then, as if an afterthought, he added “Some people don’t know they can live without drugs and booze to turn them on. They don’t know how wrong they are.” 

“I write most of my own lyrics,” he said. “Words just come to me. I can just be walking around, perfoming, thinking, or just anything, when the words come to mind.”

Stevie said that no one person has been a major influence on his singing, but that many have contributed to his style. What does he think about Ray Charles? “He is a great musician and a great artist." 

Bringing people together is a big “thing” with Stevie. “Ray Charles has done a lot to bring people together,” he feels, “but so have the Beatles, Nat king Cole, Sam Cooke and many others.

“Music is for everyone,” said the singer who currently has the number five record in the nation. “There’s something in it for everybody.”

To someone who has traveled around the world, the question was asked, “What are people like, Stevie?”

“Oh, there are all kinds of people—sincere, insincere, honest, dishonest. Everyone is different. I like almost all of them.” The only people he doesn’t like, he said, are the handicapped ones.

“By handicapped I don’t mean blind or crippled, or anything like that,” he said. Handicapped people are those who are so filled with hatred and ignorance that they are unable to see right and wrong.

“Those people,” he said, “I am afraid of.”

What makes a big hit?

“The public makes it possible for me to have hits.” Stevie said he likes to see as many people as possible at his concerts and that he always tries to get in as many songs as he can.

“This,” he said, “is the only way I have to express my thanks to people---through my music.” 

He saw quite a few people Tuesday night. McDonald Gym was packed.

Compiled from the archives by Ja'Leigh Cerf.

Category: Archives