#459: Isn’t She Lovely by Stevie Wonder
Stevland Hardaway Judkins was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1950. He was born six weeks premature and confined to a hospital incubator. After birth he developed resulted in retinopathy of prematurity – a condition of some premature babies – in which the growth of the eyes is aborted and causes the retinas to detach. Soon after his birth he became blind. As an adult he remarked “people who see often choose the book by the cover…. Maybe a person is also beautiful inwardly and that’s the side I’ll know first.” When he was four his mother divorced his father and remarried. The boy took his new father’s legal name, Morris, after they moved to Detroit. He remembers that in the winter of 1954 “my mother, brothers and I went to this dry dock where there was coal and steal some to keep warm. To a poor person, that’s not stealing, that’s not a crime. That’s a necessity.” As he could not see, he spent a lot of time in his family home listening to the radio. His favorite recording acts were Johnny Ace, Hank Ballard & The Midnighters, and later Del Shannon. An uncle gave him a harmonica. After he mastered the instrument, he was given a drum kit one Christmas. And a neighbor gave her piano to Stevie where she moved from the neighborhood. He formed a singing partnership with his friend John Glover. They billed themselves as Stevie and John, playing on street corners, parties and dances.