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21. Lifetime Of Achievements

Stevie Wonder & CoolioThe Billboard Music Awards of 1996, at the Shrine auditorium, saw Stevie performing Pastime Paradise, with Coolio who sampled the song for his hit Gangsta's Paradise. Coolio's version went on to win a Grammy for the Best Rap Performance.

In February Stevie received the prestigious NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award as well as two more Grammys, Best R&B Song and Best R&B Vocals, for his single For Your Love from Conversation Peace.

Also in 1996 Stevie wrote three songs for the soundtrack to motion picture The Adventures of Pinocchio. The beautiful ballad, Kiss Lonely Goodbye, was released as a single but had no impact on the charts. The other songs were Hold On To Your Dreams and Pinocchio's Evolution.
Stevie Wonder
Babyface was another recipient of Stevie's time and talent. Together they wrote and performed How Come, How Long on Babyface's The Day album. The song berating the atrocities of domestic violence was released as a single in the UK in 1997 where it reached #10. He also performed the song live with Babyface at an MTV Unplugged concert to raise funds for the Phoenix House Drug Rehabilitation Center.

Stevie met with his long time friend Elton John in 1998 when they were both invited to the White House in Washington to perform at a reception for England's Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Later in the year he appeared at the War Child charity concert, hosted by Luciano Pavarotti in Italy. Stevie wrote the song, Peace Wanted Just To Be Free for the occasion, resulting in a very arousing duet and finale to the event.

In 1998 he also teamed up with long time friend, Herbie Hancock on a tribute album to George Gershwin. This collaboration earned Stevie another 2 Grammies fot the song St. Louis Blues, taking his Grammy award total to a phenomenal 21.

Stevie Wonder & King GustafAnd to aptly close of the millennium, in 1999 Stevie was honoured by the King of Sweden when he received the prestigious Polar Music Prize in May. At the after show party, Stevie performed the song Blusette with Toots Thielsman.

In December he was selected for the distinguished annual Kennedy Center Honours. At 49 he was the youngest person on which the honour has ever been bestowed upon. Chairman of the Center said, 'Stevie Wonder is a musical genius who has been an integral part of American music for four decades.' The ceremony was followed by a reception hosted at the White House by President Clinton.

With no new album on the horizon, Motown released a deluxe four disc box set titled At The Close Of A Century, together with a 96 page booklet. Though the compilation was planned to include a few new songs, Stevie did not deliver to Motown, any new material on time for its release.
Stevie Wonder 300th
In August 2001 Detroit celebrated its 300th birthday and Stevie was on hand to host a free concert. Stevie provided the thousands on hand with one of his trademark Homecoming Concerts.

A month later saw the tragic 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. To honour the heroes of that event many events were organised. One such event was a two hour telethon shown around the Globe which included many celebrities from various walks of life. Contributing were Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg, George Clooney, Meg Ryan, Sting, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon and Stevie. He sang Love's In Need Of Love Today with the group Take 6, and led the massed stars for a rousing America The Beautiful as the programme's finale. Stevie's performance that night won him another Grammy for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group.
Stevie Wonder & Sting BMA 2003
In July 2002 the Songwriters Hall of Fame awarded Stevie a Lifetime Achievement award. Later that year in November Stevie was honoured with the BET Walk of Fame award. After being serenaded by many artists performing his songs, Stevie concluded the show with a new song called I Can't Imagine Love Without You which he promised would be on his forthcoming album due out in May 2003.

However Stevie is still in the studio working on this album. At the Billboard Award Ceremony on December 10th 2003 where he presented Sting with the Billboard Century Award, Stevie stated he will deliver Something new to hear in March...maybe April.

Since 1997 Stevie has mentioned the release of an upcoming album. He has even gone so far as mentioning various possible genres - jazz, gospel, rap and even songs from the vaults.

However Stevie, being the consummate artist that he is, insists on only releasing a product that he is thoroughly happy with, and who are we to argue.

Looking back on his forty-one years in the music industry we see an incomparable body of the highest quality music that he has given to us; a repository of compositions that continue to inspire successive generations of mankind.