Close Encounters of the Wonder-Kind
This page recounts the amazing stories of fans who have had the opportunity to meet Stevie Wonder. Each story is retold by the individual
in their own words expressing the multitude of feelings and emothions they experience in his presence. If you have a similar story you would like to share,
please feel free to
submit details for publishing.
Date Published: 12 Feb. 2012
Name: Amy Oliver
Date of Meeting: 28 June 2009
Place: Wisconsin, USA
This is the picture I received about two months after the concert. Steve’s staff took pictures for any/everyone who didn’t have a camera and gave us each a special code to retrieve
our photos when they were later posted online. Because I used to be a photographer, I hate having my picture taken and I usually don’t smile.
In this pic, Steve is holding a shekere I had just given him (I made it especially for him.) When my time with him was up, out of nowhere he asked to hold my hand for the picture;
which is why I have such a beautiful smile on my face. But the absolute, best memory of this experience for me happened about two weeks later when Steve was doing his
“Thursday Morning Thunder Program” on KJLH. He was jamming with two guest artists he had on the show then he started playing the shekere I’d given him.
Later, in the background, I could hear them asking him where he got it from when he said someone had given it to him as a gift….
The following statement was written for our Yahoo Group in response to an article/review that was written about that night’s performance in which the author refers to Steve’s behavior
as strange, odd and unusual…
I live in Wisconsin and I went to see Steve at Summerfest and I would like to share my perceptions of the performance that evening. John Legend opened the show stating right at the onset
that he knew we were there to see Stevie but he was gonna warm us up for him. I'm not really all that familiar with Legend's music and it seemed to me that he performed too long
(it was way more than 30 minutes.) But in retrospect, I am so glad Legend was there to share the stage with Steve and help to reduce the stressors of having to perform under such
Steve certainly did open with a statement about the contrast between our first African American president taking office in the same year that we lose the greatest entertainer
in the world and how sad it was making him. And yes, he did play a lot of Michael's music as a tribute to him during the show. And yes at one point he did become overwhelmed with grief,
but there was nothing odd or unusual or strange about it.
The only thing that was odd or unusual or strange was that in spite of all the crying (and he cried a lot) Steve was still able to sing. I just don't how he did it. At one point during
a short medley of Michael's songs, Steve stated that The Way You Make Me Feel was his personal favorite just before playing a segment of the song. He started out singing along, happy
and upbeat but he eventually became so overwhelmed with emotion that he stopped playing and laid down on his piano bench sobbing with grief. John Legend went to him and tried to console
him with no effect. It was his daughter Aisha who able to get him to compose himself and resume the performance.
To me there was nothing odd about Steve's behavior. I can't begin to imagine how it must have felt for him to be committed to several performances right on the heels of Michael's death.
I'm sure he could not cancel any of those engagements without suffering dire consequences just as I'm also sure that he would have preferred to grieve in private with Michael's family.
He apologized to the audience later for breaking down, but he also said he wasn't ashamed to show his feelings. As far as I'm concerned, the only thing strange about it was that the
audience kept right on clapping and dancing like they didn't even notice or care how much he was suffering.
And I'm still amazed that he was able to retain his singing voice after shedding so many tears. The highlight of the evening for me was to be part of a select group that got to meet
Steve and talk to him and take pictures after the show. I hope he comes back to Summerfest next year so we can do it again.
Date Published: 09 Feb. 2012
Name: Philip and Vivan McKeown
Date of Meeting: May 2008
Place: New Orleans, USA
My wife, Vivian, and I were in New Orleans in May 2008 for the New Orleans Jazz festival.
We had heard Stevie was playing and were desperate to see him, so we booked the weekend tickets.
There were other great acts on such as Santana, Nevell bros, Dixxy Chicks, but we were there for Stevie on the Friday. As it had been raining on thursday I decided I needed boots as it was outdoor and I was would be wearing my kilt, I'm Scottish.
On the Friday morning my we were walking along Cannal St in Nqw Orleans looking for a shoe shop when we saw, right in front of us, Stevie Wonder and is minders!!!
They all went into a retail shop called Radio City and everyone was standing outside.
Well I decided I had one chance so this was it. Vivian and I went into the shop and after standing about for a few minutes, asked his 7ft High minder if we could meet the great man. "No Problem." he replied.
As I approached Stevie, my wife says "Don't cry". I introduced myself and my wife and all the great questions I had about his life changing music went right out of my mind.
After my introduction he replied to me, in a Scottish accent, so funny, "Oh you're Scottish are you? Pleased to meet you both."
He then asked why I was in New orleans and I told him we were over for his concert. He then replied, very humbly, "What you came over all this way just for me?"
"Of course" we said and he then asked us to both give him a hug.
We then said goodbye and walked away on a high and realised we did not have a photo. We never even had our camera with us. We the went to a shop and bought a disposable and decided to go back in and ask for a photo. As we were again standing about, Stevie was still standing in the same place and the assistants were opening all types of electronics for him to touch. His daughter Aisha kept going over to him and whispering in his ear letting him know what each item was.
Then a Mr Macdonald, Stevie's PA, came over to us and asked us about Scotland. We had a good conversation with him and we then asked him if he could arrange a photo.
He went over to Stevie and asked him and he said, of course anything for my Scottish friends! Vivian took the first photo of Stevie and Me. Stevie then said to me "Where is your wife?" and I told him she was taking the photo, so he held his arms out to her and said come on give me a hug, another one!"
Mr Macdonald, I dont know his first name, took another two photo's of us with Stevie. We thanked everyone and left on a cloud, which to this day I have never come off.
We saw him at the Jazz Festival later that day. We were at the front row and Aisha recognised us and gave us a big smile and threw some kisses.
It was without a doubt one of, if not THE best day of my life.
Date Published: 07 Feb. 2012
Name: Mattias Agnesund
Date of Meeting: 16 July 2010
Place: Copenhagen, Denmark
Now it is time to tell the story of my meeting with Stevie. First something must be said about the concert itself. This was my fourth Stevie gig, and with the possible exception of Gothenburg 1992 (when I couldn't stay to the end) this was by far the most impressive. Stevie's voice was so strong, and did not fade by an inch during the 2 hours 20 minutes show. Unbelievable. He delivered a perfect "Free" near the end, soaring on the high notes. What also made the evening special was the audience. Somewhere around 18-19,000 people (in a soccer stadium that easily takes 40 000), and they all seemed to be true fans! Stevie apparently noticed this, as he let them sing the entire first verse of "Living for the City" without providing the lyrics. All in all, a nearly perfect show without any of the drawn out moments that burdened the "Live At Last" tour. I am so happy I could make it to Copenhagen.
There is of course another reason for that. Upon entering the arena, I asked my assistant, Ester, to go look for Milton or Keith John. She could not find them but came back with another member of Stevie's crew. I did not realize then, but this was Eddie Wolfe the photographer. He said he would talk to Milton to make sure we could go backstage afterwards. He also took a liking to my slippers, designed to look like bulls with a ring in their noses. (My feet are twisted so it is hard for me to wear shoes.) After the show I wasn't sure if Eddie or someone else would come to fetch us, so I sent Ester again to have a look. The first person she talked to said that they were probably leaving early, but Ester said I had better come to the exit myself if something should happen. Now we waited for 10-15 minutes without spotting Milton. Meanwhile the arena personnel were cleaning up, and a large truck blocked the exit that led to the backstage area. We sensed that they wanted us to leave, but none forced us, and finally Mr Hardaway emerged from behind the truck.
An interesting conversation followed! Ester asked if we could go backstage. Milton said that they "normally" have a "meet and greet" for a number of fans, but this night Stevie was leaving early and there would be no time for that. Now I chimed in, asking for "one minute" only. (Milton could not hear me say that, but Ester "translated" it.) Milton did not understand, or pretended not to: "A minute of what?" We explained we wanted just a brief moment with Stevie. With what sounded like a mixture of disbelief and admiration for our perseverance, he exclaimed: "Are you (still) asking for a meet and greet!?" He now agreed to see what he could do. We were allowed to wait at our current location, but he could not say how long it would take before he'd get back. So we waited, endless minutes during which my hope sometimes faded, but I was determined to stay as long as there was anything left of it. The next thing that happened was that another crew member, I think his name was Abdullah, came and said hi to us. He then talked to a woman from the arena personnel about what apparently was an obstacle for me to go backstage: there were stairs to the backstage area, and the truck was blocking the way. The woman led us out of the area and showed us another entrance to the backstage area. We were in!
Here we met Milton again, who now showed his softer side. "Make sure he is comfortable", he instructed my assistants. We were supposed to wait again, and soon we realized why. There was going to be a meet and greet, but downstairs, with no elevator to take me there. Milton certainly did not ignore this problem, informing one of Stevie´s helpers about the situation, but it was painful to see him admit other people downstairs while I must stay behind. My hopes where converging into one crucial question: would Stevie come up the stairs just to see me? Normally, I would not have expected it, but about one hour earlier Stevie had informed the crowd that he was an appointed UN ambassador for the disabled, with a mission to campaign for accessibility for everyone. And here there was no elevator! It would have been the ultimate irony if this circumstance would have prevented me from seeing Stevie. "But if Mattias can't come to Stevie, Stevie must come to Mattias". And to my great relief, he did!
He suddenly appeared in the doorway, and escorted by Eddie and Milton he approached me. Stevie seemed to be rather tired and didn't speak much, but Ester introduced me and conveyed my wish to shake his hand. Stevie's hand immediately started searching mine. We said thanks for the amazing show, and asked if we could take a photo. To this Stevie himself responded with a clear and emphatic "yes"! Eddie actually used my private camera (an old non-digital) for the first shots! (He emailed me the photos taken by his camera the following day already.) Milton then told my two assistants that they could also be in a photo with Stevie if they wanted to, and to this they happily agreed. We then exchanged "God bless you with Stevie. I was especially happy that Stevie heard me say that (and responded to it) with my weak, indistinct voice, without any interpretation by my assistants. It was a good thing that we were alone with Stevie in a quiet room, so we could have this moment of connection, just him and me. And then it was all over.
Eddie stayed a little longer, and on a parting note, he said I should thank my "bull slippers" for making this come true! And who knows, Stevie is the "Black Bull", right?
Date Published: 06 Feb. 2012
Name: Vaid Bharath
Date of Meeting: 09 September 2008
Place: Manchester, England
It was Tuesday 9th of September.
A day I’ll always remember.
‘Cos that was the day I met Stevie Wonder.
I had the pleasure of meeting up with many friends, Bruno, Arno, Piotr, Brent and wife Ruth and David and wife Barbara. It was an amazing evening after a 5 hour drive, mostly in rain, to Manchester from London.
As much has been posted and articles read, about the Wonder Summer Nights concerts, I will not go into details other than to say Stevie had us in seventh heaven all through the evening.
Prior to the concert Bruno met up with Milton, Stevie's brother, and we spoke about Stevie and asked about Keith John (one of Stevie’s backup singers who had befriended us at previous concerts). Of course the topic quickly turned to the possibility of backstage passes, and to cut a long story short we were eventually promised three. After the concert, we made our way to the front of the stage for our rendezvous with Milton who delivered on his promise of three backstage passes.
As we waited about half an hour to be led back stage the anticipation was mounting. Finally we were led to a room and another 15 minutes wait before Stevie appeared being led to a keyboard at the front with the 12 seats filled with eager fans. Stevie chatted very casually and played some playful notes on the keyboard before Milton started introducing individuals/couples to Stevie at the front. When it came to my turn, Keith John called me up and introduced me as the webmaster of a Stevie Wonder website.
I froze for a while, my mind going blank, but down to earth Stevie chatted and we talked about the Gershwin Prize and the work he has been commissioned to write but all he said was he was working on it. I asked him about the song 'The Bell for Freedom Still Rings' and if it would be on 'Gospel Inspired by Lula' but he had a little trouble recalling it until I started mumbling some of the words and he began playing and singing it on the keyboard. It was amazing, me and Stevie Wonder together behind the keyboards “making” music!
I congratulated him on the performance at the US Democratic National Convention, which was the previous week, and he asked if I saw it. “Yes, on the internet” I replied. He then enquired, “Did you like the new song?” (Fear Can’t Put Dreams To Sleep). I replied “It’s one of your best.”
I cannot remember everything as it was such a blur, more like a dream! But Stevie was so affable and down to earth a person yet radiating a special glow that had all in his presence mesmerised. Then Milton asked me to introduce Arno to Stevie which I did and hopefully Arno’s story will be here sometime soon for all to read.
At midnight, coincidentally, it was one of the guests' birthday and Stevie sang 3 versions of Happy Birthday for him, the traditional, his own (of course) and 50 Cent's. Who could really ask for a better birthday present?
We left around 12:30am still struck with awe and wonder.