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3. One Hit Wonder?

Stevie Wonder, Kim Weston, Berry Gordy, SmokeyStevie says that he is fortunate that God gave him the gift and made it possible for him to create. Most important, says Stevie, is that I was able to live in a family situation where I was loved and encouraged. If you lack any of those things, it can throw you off balance as to what is to be or not.

Motown was a special place for Little Stevie Wonder. It provided him with more than enough parents, Everyone over 11 was my parent, Clarence Paul loved me like his own son, Esther Edwards, Berry Gordy's sister, Ardena Johnson, all the musicians and artists watched over me. Wanda of the Marvelettes would always tell me when she thought I was eating too much candy. I wish kids today could have the same kind of caring expressed and shown to them. Today there is a lack of concern for others and for ones' self.

Adults began to recognise Stevie as an entertainer after Fingertips. They compared him with Ray Charles. Stevie was labelled, The 12 Year Old Genius I'd say 'What is a genius?' I was not able to compare anything to anything. I was having fun. I felt that I was only having fun and that the Ray Charles was the professional.
Stevie Wonder
Between his recordings of 1963 and 1965, several major events took place in Stevie's career. There were two traumatic events. My voice changed. Clarence Paul was producing With A Song In My Heart, Dream, Smile, Make Someone Happy, etc. All the keys had been done. In 1964, Stevie went on tour with the Supremes and the Temptations. At the beginning of the tour Clarence had all the keys, after the tour and back in the studio, all of the keys were too high for Stevie. My second tragedy was not having the opportunity to meet Dinah Washington. She had expressed a desire to meet me but when I got off the tour in the South, she was performing. She past away soon after that.

Little Stevie Wonder was beginning to mature. He was taller, had a moustache and was talking to girls on the phone. Instead of throwing his tie out to the audience he was hoping that the girls would throw phone numbers on stage.

Not to overlook his studies, Stevie was fortunate enough to acquire a private teacher to travel with him. One who cared about him very much. Ted Hull could see well enough to not be considered blind and was considered partially sighted. By Ted having experience of travel around the world, he helped me a great deal from the standpoint of understanding what blindness is about, how to deal and communicate with people.
Motown Revue Poster
A person who had no experience of travelling the world may not have been able to so readily understand the things that should be checked out by a person with the opportunities. If Ted had been a different person he might have felt that as long as we got the studies done and toured a little that would be enough. But he explained the foreign currencies to me, taught me about the electric currents and their differences. He connected the blind world with the sighted world.

Stevie recalls a personal experience shared by Ted and himself. I met a person in a record shop while I was signing autographs. I thought this person was so nice, had such a nice voice. I kept holding this person's hand. The person's name was Bobbie. After we left the shop, I asked Ted about Bobbie. Wasn't that girl nice? Ted said, 'What girl?' The girl in the record shop whose hand I was holding. Ted fell out into hysterics. "That was a boy, Stevie." Then I broke out into hysterics.

I was into voices at the time I thought by the voice being high that Bobbie was a short girl. I don't know how funny that would be today, but it was funny then.
Stevie Wonder
The time period between Fingertips and Uptight was crucial. One of Motown's producers suggested that along with some of their other artists, that they drop Little Stevie Wonder. He had gone 2 years without a hit record. The singles Workout Stevie Workout, Castles In The Sand, Hey Harmonica Man, Kiss Me Baby and High Heal Sneakers did not fare too well on the charts. None of them charted in the UK and only Hey Harmonica Man entered the US top 30 at 29.

It was evident that much of the material selected for Stevie during that period was inappropriate for his age and vocal styling. It was left to Stevie himself and a new team of songwriters to see how best they could rescue his career.