As most of us know, Stevie Wonder is a musical genius. After recently watching the 2003 film Ray, a biopic of the musical genius Ray Charles, it occurred to me that there should be a film about the life of Stevie Wonder. Wonder’s music has defined much of the twentieth century with its unique soulful influence being able to appeal to a broad audience across the world.
Wonder was one of the prominent figures in defining the early sounds of Motown Records, founded by Barry Gordy, and from a young age his musical talent was instantly remarkable. His extraordinary ability to play the harmonic, keyboard, and various other instruments left his listeners in awe when they heard his songs.
I was introduced to Wonder’s music through my mother and when I first heard his single “My Cherie Amour,” I was captivated not only by his defiant voice, but also the fluidity of the music. Wonder played the drums on the song, which to me, added a beautiful ambiance to the song as a whole.
Wonder’s music not only had an influence in pop culture but it also provided a voice to voiceless to protest against systemic oppression and injustice within America. His 1973 album Innervisions, raised social awareness of drug abuse, politics and economic inequality in the United States during the 1970s.
One socially conscious song that brought racial inequality to the forefront of Wonder’s discography is the classic “Living For the City.” As a critique, the song emphasizes the perils of being African American in a systemically racialized environment and also the living conditions that Blacks were forced into during a period when Blackness was overtly marginalized. Wonder’s song portrayed the difficulties of finding economic opportunity in America as a Black American at a time where bigotry and hate exerted by the white oppressor never ceased to persist.
One song that many people don’t take into consideration that deals with the same injustices Wonder wrote about is “Big Brother,” a track from his 1972 album, Talking Book. Wonder sang about how the Black community were underrepresented in terms of their political views and had not been given proper justice in a society that didn’t recognize the state of emergency that they were subjected to.
As a winner of 25 Grammy awards, there is no doubt that Wonder has embodied what it means to be an influential figure for future musicians to come after him. More so, he has been an active figure in the Black struggle as well, serving as an activist to fight against the racial injustice. His determination to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday in 1980 exemplifies his ongoing leadership to allow the Black communities’ voices to be accounted for and his well-deserved Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he was given in 2014, is a testament to the equality and peace that he has stressed through his music and social activism. Wonder’s life as a humanitarian should encourage us as citizens of this world to push for change and make a difference that will affect the lives of others in a positive light.
Isaiah Underwood is a senior studying creative writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Isaiah? Email him email@example.com.