July 4, 2008
Exploring the Wonderment of Stevie
By Evan Henerson, Staff Writer
Even though he had a number of hits before, it was the 1972 "Music of My Mind" that marked Stevie Wonder as an original talent.
The 26-time Grammy winner is currently on the road for a handful of dates in the States before taking his Wonder Summer Night's tour throughout Europe in September, followed by a tour of Australia and New Zealand.
Wonder, who plays the Hollywood Bowl on Monday, recently shared some of what was on his mind.
ON THE PROSPECT OF A MOTOWN RECORDS 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION:
I spoke with (founder Berry Gordy) about that. I'm sure they're going to do a few different things, maybe a collection of songs on CDs, you know how this kind of stuff goes. I don't know if there is going to be any kind of television special.
I think that he's been working on this sort of documentary film of all the various things that happened throughout the years, the early years of Motown, the meetings that they had, some of the various producers, and some of the artists and some of that kind of stuff. ...
I was only like 9 years old when it started. So that was kind of interesting. And me having the wish that I could be a singer and being as fascinated by that sound that came out of a radio, you know, how all that could happen.
ON BARACK OBAMA:
People know my passion. It's consistently been the same since understanding social issues, political issues and having a great desire to see a united people in the United States. I think that if South Africa can come from apartheid as it did and elected, ultimately, a president who was in prison at one time because he was against the apartheid, to become the president of that country, as in the case of former President Nelson Mandela.
We have to get beyond these places of color and cultural boundaries. I mean, the world is far smaller than ever before, and things that used to take weeks or months for people to find out about or hear about takes now just a matter of seconds.
ON HIS SET LIST:
I think "Signs of Living" has to be in there. I think that "My Cherie Amour," if possible, can be in there. I think "Superstition" is important to be in there. I think obviously some of the stuff from "Songs in the Key of Life."
Obviously, we have a pretty extensive set that we do, and we try to pick the songs that work good, not only the songs that people know, but maybe some that may have not been necessarily No. 1 but just feel right and get the response from the audience. You want to have something that feels, that flows with what you want to do.
ON UPCOMING PROJECTS:
I plan to work while I'm on the road on two projects. One is going to be a tribute to my mother, as I lost my mother in 2006. The project is going to be called "Gospel Inspired by Lula," and Lula is my mother's first name.
Some of it is going to be traditional gospel. I might do something in Arabic. I might do something in Hebrew, just different things I'm going to probably do differently than what one would expect because my whole thing of the title is just saying spreading the good word, the message.
And then the second thing we're going to do is a project called "Through the Eyes of Wonder." And what I want to do with our live performances is to create visuals ... for the people to give them my take on how I see the world and how various things affected me.
ON SPEAKING OUT:
I just think that we all have to inspire and encourage each other. And my focus is on the country that I'm from. My focus is on just instilling incredible things for other people here. There are too many homeless people, so we need to deal with that. The energy crisis, I mean, you know, the gas is crazy. I think we have to embark on solutions to the various problems we are confronted with. I don't want to see another (Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack) anywhere, whether it be in this country or anywhere in the world.
So we've got to find solutions. And I think that we have to really come together to common ground and be about the perpetuation of life. No matter what religion or ethnicity or color that we are, we have to be about the perpetuation of life.
ON RAY CHARLES:
I just am very honored that I had the pleasure of meeting him. I met him when I was 11. He brought lots of people together. I mean, there are people that listen to only country, but after hearing Ray Charles they probably were curious about what jazz was all about. And there are jazz musicians that may not listen to country and say, "Well, let me check that out." And so I think any time a musician or an artist can bring people together, it's a great thing, because it then opens up not only their musical ears but their spiritual ears.
Evan Henerson (818) 713-3651
>Where: Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood.
>When: 8 p.m. Monday.
>Tickets: $35 to $250. (213) 365-3500, www.ticketmaster.com.
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