CBC Digital Archives

Introducing Little Stevie Wonder

"Because you are blind, do you think that this gives you an advantage, to a certain extent, in putting more soul into a song?" asks CBC interviewer Lloyd Halyk. He's talking to Little Stevie Wonder, the 13-year-old blind boy from Michigan who's starting to hit it big on the pop music charts. In this 1964 radio interview, young Stevie shares his thoughts on blindness, his early start in music and his idol Ray Charles. He then treats listeners to a short tune on his harmonica.

• Stevie Wonder was born Steveland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, in Saginaw, Mich.
  • He had been born prematurely and suffered from an eye condition called retinopathy of prematurity, which led to his blindness.

• When Stevie was four, he moved to Detroit with his mother and siblings.

• In 1961, at the age of 11, Stevie met Ronnie White of the Motown group The Miracles. Impressed with his musical abilities, White introduced him to the CEO of Motown Records, Berry Gordy, who quickly signed him the Motown label with a new moniker: "Little Stevie Wonder."

• Wonder released his first two albums -- The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie Wonder and Tribute to Uncle Ray -- in 1962, but they didn't have much commercial success. But by 1963, he had a chart-topping hit with the single Fingertips from the album Recorded Live: the 12 Year Old Genius. This launched him into the realm of pop stardom, and he's been a household name ever since.

• Wonder has released more than 30 albums spanning nearly five decades. He has won countless awards and honours, including 25 Grammy awards (one of which was for lifetime achievement).

• In February 2009, U.S. president Barack Obama presented Wonder with the Library of Congress's second annual Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. At the ceremony, Obama credited Stevie Wonder's music with bringing him and his wife Michelle together: "I think it's fair to say that had I not been a Stevie Wonder fan, Michelle might not have dated me."

Medium: Radio
Program: Assignment
Broadcast Date: Jan. 30, 1964
Guest(s): Stevie Wonder
Reporter: Lloyd Halyk
Duration: 4:21
Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Last updated: February 21, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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