At 71, Stevie Wonder has a new label deal, an album ~ above the way and a vault overflowing through songs he’s quiet reimagining. Yet even with 25 Grammys under his belt, he’s “not make the efforts to do the typical…


This story is component’s2022 Grammy Preview issue, highlighting the artists, issues and trends that will define awards season. Check out our cover story top top Halsey, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross here.

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Amid the historical social and political upheaval of the past year, as well as the pandemic, Stevie Wonder walk what that has always done: he went back to the record studio.


With 25 wins out of 74 nominations, Wonder has been a regular visitor to the winner’s circle; in fact, he’s one of only four artists (along v Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and also Taylor Swift) to win album that the year three times and also the only one to do so with three consecutive release (Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ first Finale and Songs in the vital of Life). His prolonged list that nominations likewise spans one astounding variety of categories, including the big Four and also R&B honors, as well as best pop male vocal, best inspirational performance and best tune specifically written for a motion picture or television.

Wonder has constantly pushed to adjust the industry status quo. In 1971, as soon as he signed a new deal v Motown, he successfully fought for an imaginative control and also ownership the his master recordings and publishing rights. And also now, some 50 years later, he’s refusing to resolve for the intended Grammy submissions: at his behest, “Can’t put It in the hand of Fate,” special Rapsody, Chika, Cordae and Busta Rhymes, is under factor to consider for best melodic rap performance, as is “Where Is our Love Song” for ideal American roots performance.

Stevie Wonder performs onstage throughout Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration at Microsoft theater on Feb. 12, 2019 in Los Angeles.Rich Polk/Getty images for The recording Academy

How affiliated were girlfriend in identify the categories in i m sorry your current singles were submitted?

In talking around what category to choose, civilization said to put “Where Is our Love Song” in the R&B categories. Ns said, “No, I’m no going to put it there.” I desire to placed the song in a classification that provides the best sense. “Where Is our Love Song” is a track that speaks to everyone, a timeless song or people song about America. I claimed I didn’t treatment what’s generally done; the I’m no trying to perform the typical. For this reason it to be submitted in the best American roots power category.

“Can’t put It in the hand of Fate” to be submitted in the finest melodic rap performance category. It to be such an honor to work-related with Rapsody, Cordae, Chika and also Busta Rhymes for what came to be an amazing marriage with aware rap. I want to be a part of celebrating their greatness and our collaboration, so that’s why I decided to placed it in that category.

Were you connected to such an level with her prior Grammy nominations?

I think us may have done it with Songs in the an essential of Life a small bit. But much more so this time, as people may not have heard these brand-new songs, which acquired some airplay however not as much as ns wish they might have. But if the Grammys is whereby music is gift judged top top the way it sounds, the production and also writing, the will execute what they will certainly do. Yet not based upon how lot airplay, exactly how many copies were sold, just how many people own the group or whatever. To me, all of that is just foolishness. Music is music. I just felt that if ns was going to look in ~ a category this time, I would look at something that’s a small different.

Have girlfriend been adhering to the criticism — and also ensuing transforms — pertained to the record Academy’s lack of black color voters and exclusion of black artists, specifically rappers, in categories past R&B/hip-hop?

I’ve been complying with it, and also I constantly vote — I’m a music lover of various categories, even if it is it be classical, comedy, R&B/hip-hop, country, pop. There’s so lot music the end there that us can’t border it to just one kind of thing. Together for attending miscellaneous meetings, conferences or whatever, i haven’t. However I think it’s essential that I start to do an ext than simply talk to various world that are connected in this because people are sometimes misconstruing what they’re poll for. I’m no saying that just due to the fact that of whereby I am .

When human being limit rappers to the laboratory categories… i mean, these world are storytellers, who are called griots in Africa. And also these storytellers have actually grown from earlier in the work with groups like The critical Poets to what we have right below right now. They developed a totality other art kind that has been going on because that years: using turntables to tell their stories over music. Just since they didn’t carry out it as timeless poetry doesn’t median it’s no as significant. Ns was listening come LLCoolJ’s “Around the means Girl” the various other day. Everything that the talks about in the tune is so descriptive the I can visualize it. It’s exciting because it brings a picture to mind — and that’s the greatness that storytelling.

I to be happy for Adele winning album the the year 25 in 2017>, but I was also very disappointed that Beyoncé didn’t success Lemonade, i m sorry won ideal urban contemporary album>. And also Adele said, “Hey, thank you, but this human is an ext deserving of this 보다 me.” and also I think an artist should be able to say the if they feel that way. It doesn’t take anything far from them. Ns think it renders a person even greater once they’re maybe to take it a position.

Is there a distinct memory that stands out about any that the Grammys you’ve won?

I recognize the feeling of hoping the you’ll win. Ns didn’t because that “Uptight,” “For as soon as in mine Life” or “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” and also at the very least three or four times, I had the very same dream that ns was at an awards present as a nominee and also when the presenter said, “And the winner is…,” I would certainly wake increase — and end up losing. Mine God, it was craziness. Then at the awards , i hear mine name referred to as as winner of album of the year because that Innervisions. Ns was for this reason excited. I gave that Grammy to my mother.

Since then, where carry out you keep your 25 Grammys?

I’ve got them concealed away because there was a time as soon as some to be stolen. Friend know just how that goes, but we’re good now.

Wonder (center) in ~ the 17th annual Grammy Awards, wherein he took residence his 2nd consecutive album that the year trophy, in 1975.Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella collection via Getty Images

A many life happened. I lost my mom , a sister and a brother. I likewise had four more wonderful children, including two young daughters, in between my previous marriage and my wife Tomeeka . I recognize I’ve been talking around my new album, Through the eyes of Wonder, for a while. But an ext than likely, it will certainly be coming out very soon, hopefully by November.

What subjects space you gravitating toward currently in your songwriting?

I have actually a tune coming top top my following album referred to as “The living Killing Life” that i performed at the recent worldwide Citizen festival. It’s about global warming. I keep thinking around how we have the right to make the civilization better. I’m in this place where the more I’m seeing points like civilization dying in this pandemic, killings between Black resides Matter, society media negativity, anger… the more I’m a believer that respect is an action word and also so is love. I likewise have a song with PJ Morton, “Where did All her Happy Go,” for his next album. It’s around not letting anybody steal your delight or take it your delight away. The driving pressure for me has actually to constantly be the goodness in our hearts.

As with “Where Is ours Love Song” and “Can’t put It in the hands of Fate,” you’ve reached earlier into your vault before: You composed “All ns Do” together a teenager, i beg your pardon was very first recorded through Tammi Terrell and Brenda Holloway in the ’60s. Then it to be revamped into your ’80s hit. How numerous songs have actually you written that us haven’t heard yet?

I don’t know exactly how many, however I’d say an ext than a thousand. I do know I’m therefore blessed that God has offered me every one of these songs and ideas. There’s always something to create about; there’s constantly something walking on. Whether it’s me watching tv or a movie, hear something ~ above the news. Not to mention all the things that occur in my an individual life. Ns love writing songs.

There was some excitement ~ above Twitter a couple of weeks earlier when pan learned friend may have recorded two unreleased important albums through The meters in Detroit in 1979. Carry out those exist?

I remember gift onstage v The meters at the new Orleans Jazz Fest in 1973; that i may have actually been playing drums or something and just having fun. However I don’t automatically remember united state doing miscellaneous in Detroit. It’s not impossible. I’ve excellent a the majority of things, so ns won’t discredit what to be said. Ns just have to hear a track to recognize what they’re talk about. Climate I’m certain I would remember.

In a company dominated through streaming and also singles, where perform albums stand together a viable entity?

When i was growing up, I’d hear a new single from Sly& The family members Stone, The Beatles or Aretha Franklin v “Respect” the made me look front to the next solitary and then ahead to what the album was going to it is in about. I love hear singles since of that. Together life is a circle on a certain level, it’s still exciting that a single drives people’s curiosity regarding how good a new project will certainly be; kind of a inspiring sneak peek.

Given your pioneering stance on ownership and an innovative control back in 1971, have actually younger artists concerned you for advice ~ above such company matters?

Yes, some have actually as we’ve arisen that kind of connection to talk around different things. However I think the in owning masters, a person has actually to ultimately make certain that things space going to go well relocating forward. A song is hopefully among those things that’s everlasting. The the song you’ve written will certainly be heard and seen 200 year from now? Wow, that’s deep. There’s nothing dorn with civilization having the security of everything they own. But they need to make sure that through owning it, they’ll be able to work it come the level they might have had actually when lock were through a firm — or even do better.

October marks the one-year anniversary of your partnership through Republic. What were you seek in a label connection at this phase in her career?

I am hopefully a many wiser. (Laughs.) Obviously, nothing can compare come the love and also what ns was may be to do working with and also being a part of the Motown household as a tiny 11-year-old boy taken in by the greatness the Berry GordyJr. There’s nothing that really compares come that. This is a new relationship, and I just look forward to greatness coming the end of this relationship.

Over the course of your career, go you ever before feel the executives could be a little intimidated working with you since you are Stevie Wonder?

As long as they’re not so intimidated the they don’t manage the business.

Is there a biopic around your life and career in the works?

I plan to do the entirety thing: a book, documentary, biopic or whatever they speak to it. We’ve been talk to some people around a couple of things. (Laughs.)

Dionne Warwick, Wonder, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie commemorated four Grammy wins because that “We are the World” in 1986.Bettmann/Getty Images

You purchase Los Angeles radio terminal KJLH in 1979. Why is it so necessary to it is in an independent voice in an sector ruled by larger conglomerates?

Here’s what it method for the community and also for the world: whenever there’s an live independence voice that has flexibility in playing music and of talking about things that don’t desire to discuss, we understand that we have an outlet the will enable us to speak truth and not simply say things that are fashionable come say. What I witnessed in KJLH to be what i remember around two that the very first Black-owned radio stations, WCHB and also WCHD, in Inkster, Mich., owned by Dr.Wendell Cox and also Dr.Haley Bell. I was may be to discover so many things about culture, history and playing music — just since it’s great music — from listening to those stations. I’m happy that at one suggest in mine life, ns was able to acquisition KJLH indigenous the late john Lamar HillII, who believed in me sufficient to feel the I would certainly be a good person to very own his station.

Your power at global Citizen Live to be riveting. Exactly how are girlfriend able come still conjure the life energy and also emotion reminiscent of your 13-year-old “Fingertips” self?

It’s like I acquire the holy dance spirit: “God, you’ve provided me this, I deserve to do this and also I’m so excited about it. There’s so much I desire to say; so lot I desire to do. And also now you’re giving me a chance to perform it again? Wow.” then my soul opens up to be poured out to the people, and that’s what girlfriend see.

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With first-round voting finishing Nov.5, one last Grammy question: Is the gold gramophone still something that artists value?

Yes, as lengthy as the recording Academy doesn’t enable people to lessen the worth of . As long as civilization can say why this tune is great, why this setup is great, why this vocal is good or why this musicians are great — and also not just based on what part record agency or group of people think. If the is based on nothing but the greatness of a project, climate the value will last a lengthy time. And I hope the it does for many, many, plenty of years to come. At the finish of the day, human being will constantly want music and all the it to represent to have integrity.