At 71, Stevie Wonder has actually a new label deal, an album ~ above the method and a vault overflowing through songs he’s still reimagining. But even with 25 Grammys under his belt, he’s “not make the efforts to execute the typical…


This story is component’s2022 Grammy Preview issue, highlighting the artists, issues and also trends that will specify awards season. Review our sheathe story ~ above Halsey, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross here.

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Amid the historical social and political upheaval of the previous year, and also the pandemic, Stevie Wonder did what the has constantly done: the went ago to the record studio.


With 25 wins the end of 74 nominations, Wonder has been a constant visitor come the winner’s circle; in fact, he’s one of only four artists (along with Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Taylor Swift) to victory album of the year 3 times and also the only one to perform so with three consecutive releases (Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ very first Finale and also Songs in the key of Life). His prolonged list of nominations likewise spans one astounding range of categories, including the big Four and R&B honors, and best pop male vocal, ideal inspirational performance and best track specifically written for a motion photo or television.

Wonder has always pushed to adjust the industry status quo. In 1971, when he signed a brand-new deal v Motown, he properly fought for an innovative control as well as ownership the his master recordings and publishing rights. And also now, part 50 years later, he’s refusing to work out for the expected Grammy submissions: at his behest, “Can’t placed It in the hand of Fate,” featuring Rapsody, Chika, Cordae and Busta Rhymes, is under consideration for ideal melodic rap performance, as is “Where Is our Love Song” for ideal American roots performance.

Stevie Wonder performs onstage during Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration at Microsoft theater on Feb. 12, 2019 in Los Angeles.Rich Polk/Getty photos for The record Academy

How connected were girlfriend in identify the categories in i m sorry your recent singles to be submitted?

In talk around what categories to choose, people said to put “Where Is ours Love Song” in the R&B categories. I said, “No, I’m no going to placed it there.” I want to put the tune in a group that makes the best sense. “Where Is our Love Song” is a track that speak to everyone, a classic song or folk song about America. I claimed I didn’t treatment what’s normally done; that I’m no trying to execute the typical. Therefore it was submitted in the best American roots performance category.

“Can’t put It in the hands of Fate” was submitted in the best melodic rap performance category. It to be such an honor to work-related with Rapsody, Cordae, Chika and Busta Rhymes because that what became an amazing marital relationship with mindful rap. I wanted to it is in a part of celebrating their greatness and our collaboration, therefore that’s why I determined to put it in that category.

Were you connected to such an level with her prior Grammy nominations?

I think we may have done it v Songs in the key of Life a little bit. But more so this time, as civilization may not have actually heard these brand-new songs, which obtained some airplay however not as lot as ns wish they could have. However if the Grammys is whereby music is being judged on the way it sounds, the production and writing, the will carry out what they will do. Yet not based on how lot airplay, exactly how many copies were sold, exactly how many people own the category or whatever. To me, every one of that is just foolishness. Music is music. I just felt that if i was going to look at a category this time, I would certainly look in ~ something that’s a little different.

Have you been following the criticism — and also ensuing alters — concerned the recording Academy’s lack of black voters and also exclusion of black color artists, specifically rappers, in categories past R&B/hip-hop?

I’ve been following it, and also I always vote — I’m a music lover of assorted categories, even if it is it be classical, comedy, R&B/hip-hop, country, pop. There’s so lot music the end there that we can’t border it to just one kind of thing. Together for attending assorted meetings, conferences or whatever, i haven’t. Yet I think it’s important that I start to do an ext than just talk to various people that are involved in this because people are sometimes misconstruing what they’re voting for. I’m not saying that just since of where I am .

When world limit rappers to the lab categories… ns mean, these world are storytellers, that are referred to as griots in Africa. And these storytellers have actually grown from back in the work with teams like The last Poets to what we have actually right below right now. They created a entirety other art form that has actually been walking on for years: utilizing turntables to tell their stories over music. Just since they didn’t do it as traditional poetry doesn’t typical it’s not as significant. I was listening come LLCoolJ’s “Around the way Girl” the other day. Every little thing that the talks about in the tune is for this reason descriptive that I deserve to visualize it. It’s exciting since it brings a snapshot to mental — and that’s the greatness the storytelling.

I to be happy for Adele winning album the the year 25 in 2017>, yet I to be also very disappointed the Beyoncé didn’t success Lemonade, i m sorry won best urban contemporary album>. And also Adele said, “Hey, give thanks to you, but this person is an ext deserving of this 보다 me.” and I think one artist should have the ability to say that if castle feel that way. It doesn’t take anything away from them. Ns think it renders a person even greater when they’re may be to take a position.

Is there a distinct memory that stands out around any the the Grammys you’ve won?

I know the feeling of hoping that you’ll win. I didn’t for “Uptight,” “For as soon as in mine Life” or “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” and also at least three or 4 times, I had the exact same dream that i was in ~ an awards present as a nominee and when the moderator said, “And the winner is…,” I would wake up — and also end increase losing. Mine God, it was craziness. Then at the awards , ns hear my name referred to as as winner of album that the year because that Innervisions. I was for this reason excited. I gave that Grammy to my mother.

Since then, where perform you keep your 25 Grammys?

I’ve obtained them covert away because there to be a time once some to be stolen. Girlfriend know how that goes, however we’re great now.

Wonder (center) at the 17th yearly Grammy Awards, wherein he took home his second consecutive album that the year trophy, in 1975.Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella repertoire via Getty Images

A lot of life happened. I lost my mother , a sister and a brother. I likewise had four more wonderful children, consisting of two young daughters, between my ahead marriage and also my wife Tomeeka . I know I’ve been talking about my new album, Through the eye of Wonder, for a while. But an ext than likely, it will be coming out really soon, hope by November.

What subjects are you gravitating toward now in your songwriting?

I have a song coming on my next album dubbed “The living Killing Life” that ns performed in ~ the recent global Citizen festival. It’s about global warming. I keep thinking about how we can make the people better. I’m in this ar where the an ext I’m seeing points like people dying in this pandemic, killings between Black stays Matter, society media negativity, anger… the more I’m a believer the respect is an action word and also so is love. I likewise have a song with PJ Morton, “Where did All your Happy Go,” because that his following album. It’s about not letting everyone steal your happiness or take your joy away. The driving pressure for me has actually to always be the quality in our hearts.

As v “Where Is our Love Song” and “Can’t placed It in the hand of Fate,” you’ve reached ago into your vault before: You wrote “All i Do” together a teenager, which was first recorded by Tammi Terrell and also Brenda Holloway in the ’60s. Then it to be revamped right into your ’80s hit. How plenty of songs have actually you composed that us haven’t heard yet?

I don’t know specifically how many, but I’d say an ext than a thousand. Ns do know I’m therefore blessed that God has given me all of these songs and ideas. There’s always something to write about; there’s constantly something walking on. Even if it is it’s me watching television or a movie, hearing something ~ above the news. No to cite all the points that take place in my personal life. I love writing songs.

There was part excitement ~ above Twitter a few weeks ago when fans learned girlfriend may have recorded 2 unreleased instrumental albums v The meter in Detroit in 1979. Do those exist?

I remember gift onstage with The meters at the new Orleans Jazz Fest in 1973; that i may have actually been play drums or something and also just having fun. Yet I don’t automatically remember united state doing miscellaneous in Detroit. It’s no impossible. I’ve excellent a lot of things, so i won’t discredit what to be said. I just need to hear a track to recognize what they’re talk about. Climate I’m sure I would certainly remember.

In a company dominated by streaming and singles, where perform albums stand together a viable entity?

When i was cultivation up, I’d hear a new single native Sly& The household Stone, The Beatles or Aretha Franklin with “Respect” that made me look forward to the next solitary and then ahead come what the album was going to it is in about. Ns love listening singles because of that. Together life is a circle on a specific level, it’s still exciting that a single drives people’s curiosity as to how great a brand-new project will be; type of a inspiring sneak peek.

Given your pioneering view on property and an innovative control back in 1971, have younger artists come to you because that advice ~ above such service matters?

Yes, some have actually as we’ve emerged that kind of connection to talk around different things. But I think the in owning masters, a person has actually to at some point make sure that things are going to walk well relocating forward. A tune is hopefully one of those points that’s everlasting. That the song you’ve written will certainly be heard and seen 200 years from now? Wow, that’s deep. There’s nothing not correct with civilization having the defense of every little thing they own. Yet they have to make certain that by owning it, they’ll be able to work it come the level they may have had when lock were through a agency — or also do better.

October marks the one-year anniversary of your partnership with Republic. What to be you seeking in a label relationship at this stage in her career?

I am hopefully a many wiser. (Laughs.) Obviously, nothing deserve to compare to the love and what ns was maybe to perform working with and being a component of the Motown family as a tiny 11-year-old young taken in by the greatness that Berry GordyJr. There’s nothing the really compares come that. This is a new relationship, and I just look forward to greatness coming out of this relationship.

Over the course of her career, go you ever feel that executives might be a little intimidated working through you because you room Stevie Wonder?

As long as they’re not so intimidated that they don’t manage the business.

Is over there a biopic about your life and career in the works?

I plan to carry out the totality thing: a book, documentary, biopic or whatever they contact it. We’ve been talk to some people about a few things. (Laughs.)

Dionne Warwick, Wonder, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie commemorated four Grammy wins because that “We space the World” in 1986.Bettmann/Getty Images

You purchased Los Angeles radio terminal KJLH in 1979. Why is it so necessary to be an live independence voice in an market ruled by enlarge conglomerates?

Here’s what it way for the community and also for the world: at any time there’s an elevation voice the has flexibility in playing music and also of talking around things the don’t desire to discuss, we know that we have actually an outlet that will permit us to speak truth and not just say things that room fashionable to say. What I witnessed in KJLH to be what i remember about two that the very first Black-owned radio stations, WCHB and WCHD, in Inkster, Mich., own by Dr.Wendell Cox and Dr.Haley Bell. Ns was may be to find out so numerous things about culture, history and playing music — just due to the fact that it’s great music — native listening to those stations. I’m happy the at one allude in my life, ns was maybe to purchase KJLH native the late man Lamar HillII, who thought in me enough to feel that I would certainly be a great person to very own his station.

Your power at an international Citizen Live was riveting. How are girlfriend able come still conjure the life energy and emotion reminiscent of her 13-year-old “Fingertips” self?

It’s favor I get the divine dance spirit: “God, you’ve given me this, I can do this and also I’m so excited about it. There’s so lot I want to say; so much I want to do. And also now you’re giving me a opportunity to do it again? Wow.” climate my soul opens up up to it is in poured out to the people, and that’s what girlfriend see.

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With first-round voting finishing Nov.5, one critical Grammy question: Is the gold gramophone tho something that artists value?

Yes, as long as the recording Academy doesn’t permit people come lessen the value of . As long as world can say why this song is great, why this arrangement is great, why this vocal is great or why these musicians are good — and not just based upon what part record company or team of people think. If the is based on nothing yet the greatness that a project, climate the value will last a lengthy time. And I hope that it does for many, many, many years come come. In ~ the finish of the day, people will always want music and all the it to represent to have integrity.