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What the teenage Stevie Wonder told CBC about putting soul into music

Stevie Wonder was a 13-year-old blind boy from Michigan who was hitting it big on the pop music charts in 1964, when he was interviewed by CBC Radio's Assignment.

'If you really just feel something and you enjoy this thing, you really put soul into it'

Soul star Stevie Wonder relaxing with his harmonica, March, 1965. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Celebrated for hits such as My Cherie Amour, Superstition, and You Are the Sunshine of My Life, Stevie Wonder was a 13-year-old just on the cusp of a successful career when he spoke to CBC Radio's Assignment in 1964.

Assignment met up with the young Motown sensation in London, England and asked him about his music.

Stevie Wonder was a 13-year-old blind boy from Michigan who was hitting it big on the pop music charts in 1964, when he was interviewed by CBC Radio's Assignment. 4:08

"It's OK," Wonder said, on the subject of the style he'd been performing. 

"Some of it's swing, some of it's a little bluesy-like, and myself, personally I like ... ballads or standards, such as something like Moon River."

Wonder, who rated meeting Ray Charles as a highlight so far in his career, also discussed the influence of the elder singer on his music.

"I've always followed his music just about all my life," Wonder said. 

'I really don't think I'll ever make it'

"How closely do you think you're following Ray's pattern?" Assignment's Lloyd Halyk asked. 

American musician and singer Stevie Wonder plays the harmonica, 1963. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Wonder laughed.

"I really don't think I'll ever make it, he's really such a great, great artist," he said, referring to Charles.

Wonder said he started playing the harmonica and piano when he was four, adding in the bongo, drum and organ when he was about eight. 

"I enjoy harmonica and drums about the best of all," Wonder summed up.

Halyk and Wonder also talked about his blindness. 

"Because you are blind, do you think that this gives you an advantage, to a certain extent, in putting more soul into a song?" Halyk asked.

"It could be," Wonder said. "I really think that if you really just feel something and you enjoy this thing, you really put soul into it."

A discussion about his preferred instruments came around to that harmonica sound.

"Stevie — you say you enjoy playing the harmonica just as much as any other instrument," Halyk said. "Give us an example will you?"

"All right," he said, finishing the interview with a little of that signature sound.