Stevie Wonder

Icons of the Century

Since his debut as Motown’s “12-year old Genius,” Stevie Wonder’s virtuoso gifts as a composer, vocalist and musician have achieved a ripple effect on R&B ever since. His voice — elastic, rangy, emotional, breathtaking — can achieve more than a whole phalanx of instruments.

His unique accomplishments are legion: he paved the way for Prince and others by leveraging his early successes to achieve creative autonomy — writing, playing, producing and owning his music; he brought synthesizers into the mainstream as a one-man band; and his towering quintet of ’70s recordings — “Music of My Mind,” “Talking Book,” “Innervisions,” “Fulfillingness’ First Finale” and “Songs in the Key of Life” — chronicled life in America’s inner cities in stark, funky detail and remain an enduring contribution to American culture.

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