21. Lifetime Of Achievements
The 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
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
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
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.
And 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
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.
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
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
the programme's finale. Stevie's performance that night won him
another Grammy for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group.
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
which he promised would be on his forthcoming album due out in May
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
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.