Stevland Hardaway Judkins was born in Saginaw Michigan on May 3rd, 1950. When he was around five, he moved to Detroit Michigan with his mom and siblings and was known as Stevland Hardaway Morris. He was a child prodigy, a prolific songwriter and performer, and oh yes, he is blind. We of course know him better as Stevie Wonder and he has been without sight for all of his life, although he has never let that get in the way of what he loves.
Stevie Wonder was born six weeks early and put into an incubator. He developed ROP which is Retinopathy of Prematurity, something that occurs frequently with preemies who are living in the oxygen rich confinement of an incubator. The extra oxygen aborts the growth of the eyes and the blood vessels that are so important for healthy development and causes the retinas to detach, rendering the patient blind.
But Stevie Wonder had a passion and that passion was music so he wasn’t about to allow being blind to stop him from achieving his dreams. In fact, he carried on and persevered so much that he has signed his first record contract when he was just eleven years old. He was out touring shortly afterwards, and although the early days weren’t always met with success, today is one of the best selling artists of all time. He has had over thirty Billboard Hot 100 top ten hits, has scored twenty five Grammy Awards, which is the most ever by a solo artist, and he has an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Song with 1985’s I Just Called To Say I Love You from The Woman In Red. He has also sold over 100 million albums around the world and is still the youngest ever to score a #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart with his song Fingertips when he was just thirteen years old.
This child prodigy went on to be an activist, to be honoured with inclusion in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has been awarded the United Nations’ Messenger of Peace Award.
Stevie Wonder just goes to show the world that having a disability isn’t something that should limit you and your dreams. He had some adversity early on, but didn’t let that define his career, instead he kept on keeping on and finally got to where he is today.