Birth name Stevland Hardaway Judkins
Also known as Stevland Hardaway Morris (legal)
Little Stevie Wonder (stage)
Born May 13, 1950 (age 65)
Saginaw, Michigan, United States
Origin Detroit, Michigan, United States
Genres Soul, pop, R&B, funk, jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, harmonica
Years active 1961–present
Labels Tamla, Motown
Stevland Hardaway Morris (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins; May 13, 1950), known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist. A child prodigy, he became one of the most creative and loved musical performers of the late 20th century. Wonder signed with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of 11 and has continued to perform and record for Motown as of the early 2010s. He has been blind since shortly after birth.
Among Wonder’s works are singles such as “Superstition”, “Sir Duke”, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You”; and albums such as Talking Book, Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life. He has recorded more than 30 U.S. top ten hits and received 25 Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist, and has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the top 60 best-selling music artists. Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2013, Billboard magazine released a list of the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists to celebrate the US singles chart’s 55th anniversary, with Wonder at number six.
Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1950, the third of six children of Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway. He was born six weeks premature, which, along with the oxygen-rich atmosphere in the hospital incubator, resulted in retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a condition in which the growth of the eyes is aborted and causes the retinas to detach; so he became blind. When Wonder was four, his mother left his father and moved to Detroit with her children. She changed her name back to Lula Hardaway and later changed her son’s surname to Morris, partly because of relatives. Wonder has retained Morris as his legal surname. Wonder began playing instruments at an early age, including piano, harmonica and drums. He formed a singing partnership with a friend; calling themselves Stevie and John, they played on street corners, and occasionally at parties and dances.
Wonder has been married twice: to Motown singer/songwriter and frequent collaborator Syreeta Wright from 1970 until their amicable divorce in 1972; and from 2001 till 2012 to fashion designer Kai Millard. In October 2009, Wonder and Millard separated, and in August 2012, Wonder filed for divorce.
Wonder has nine children with five different mothers. The mother of Wonder’s first child is Yolanda Simmons, whom Wonder met when she applied for a job as his secretary for his publishing company. Simmons bore Wonder a daughter on February 2, 1975: Aisha Morris. After Aisha was born, Stevie said “she was the one thing that I needed in my life and in my music for a long time.” Morris was the inspiration for Wonder’s hit single “Isn’t She Lovely”. Morris is a singer who has toured with her father and accompanied him on recordings, including his 2005 album, A Time to Love. Wonder and Simmons had a son, Keita, in 1977.
In 1983, Wonder had a son with Melody McCulley. Wonder has a daughter, Sophia, and a son, Kwame, with a woman whose identity has not been publicly disclosed.
Wonder has two sons with second wife Kai Millard Morris; the elder is named Kailand and he occasionally performs as a drummer on stage with his father. The younger son, Mandla Kadjay Carl Stevland Morris, was born on May 13, 2005, his father’s 55th birthday.
Wonder’s ninth child, and his second with Tomeeka Robyn Bracy, was born in December 2014. Originally thought to be triplets, the couple’s new daughter is named Nia, meaning “purpose” – “one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa”.
In May 2006, Wonder’s mother Lula Mae Hardaway died in Los Angeles, at the age of 76. During his September 8, 2008 UK concert in Birmingham, he spoke of his decision to begin touring again following his loss: “I want to take all the pain that I feel and celebrate and turn it around.”
Wonder was introduced to Transcendental Meditation through his marriage to Syreeta Wright. Consistent with that spiritual vision, Wonder became vegetarian, and later a vegan, singing about it on The Late Late Show with James Corden during the show’s “Carpool Karaoke” segment.