1. Little Nappy Headed Boy
A skinny little boy, radiant with unlimited
energy, sat in the living room of Ronnie White, member of The
Miracles recording group. Shaking his head from side to side the 10
year old boy repeated the question asked of him,
Can I sing? Yeah, I'm bad, I'm better
than Smokey! the brash kid began to
sing The Miracles recording of Lonely
Boy. Impressed by the little kid's
talents, Ronnie set up a meeting for him with Brian Holland, a
talent scout for Motown.
It was back in 1961 that Stevland
Morris AKA Little Stevie Wonder was brought to Motown. Reflecting on
the past Stevie says, Singing
for me was fun and I didn't realize that I was going through all of
the auditions. I was just having fun singing.
Born on May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan,
Stephen Judkins Hardaway was the third of six children whose family
later moved to Detroit. Although blind since birth, Stevie never
looked upon his blindness as being a handicap.
I did what all the kids my age were
doing, I played games, rode bikes and climbed trees.
His first introduction in the music field came
when he received a gift of a small six hole harmonica from his uncle
and a set of toy drums for Christmas. A local Kiwanis Club replaced
the toy drums with a set of real drums soon after.
People at school told me I couldn't
make it, that I'd end up making potholders instead. But after I
thought I was going to be a musician, I became very determined
simply to prove those people wrong.
Stevie found that during the beginning stages of his career things
were given to him, including his name "Little Stevie Wonder" which
came from Motown. According to Stevie, Billie Jean Brown who worked
at Motown in the A & R Department (Artist Relations) along with Lucy
and Berry Gordy, tossed around different names for their new artist.
Stevie Little Wonder, Little Stevie Wonder,
Stevie The Little Wonder, were some of the suggestions. In the 50's
and 60's Little was an identifiable label attached to most protégés
or teenage entertainers, such as Little John, Little Anthony and the
Imperials. This along with the type of music they selected for him
all pointed towards the name Little Stevie Wonder. Stevie says,
If they had waited a while longer they might have called me
Knuckle-head or something.
I used to get into a lot of trouble
then, I loved to play jokes on people. I knew the phone numbers of
everyone at Motown and would change my voice and say, "This is Berry
and I want you to get Stevie that tape recorder right away. He's a
great new artist so it's o.k. to get him the tape recorder, he'll
have it back in a few days. After they fell for this about three
times and never got the recorder back, they gave me a recorder as a
belated birthday present. I had turned 11 that May and received the
tape recorder that September.