Signed, Sealed, and Delivered: The Soulful Journey of Stevie Wonder

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Overview

The first definitive biography of music legend Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder's achievements as a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer are extraordinary. During a career that has spanned almost fifty years, he has earned more than thirty Top 10 hits, twenty-six Grammy Awards, and a place in both the Rock and Roll and Songwriter Halls of Fame—and he's not finished yet. On the verge of turning sixty, he is still composing, still ...

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Overview

The first definitive biography of music legend Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder's achievements as a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer are extraordinary. During a career that has spanned almost fifty years, he has earned more than thirty Top 10 hits, twenty-six Grammy Awards, and a place in both the Rock and Roll and Songwriter Halls of Fame—and he's not finished yet. On the verge of turning sixty, he is still composing, still touring, and still attracting dedicated fans around the world.

For the first time, Signed, Sealed, and Delivered takes an in-depth look at Stevie Wonder's life and his evolution from kid-soul pop star into a mature artist whose music helped lay the groundwork for the evolution of hip hop and rap.

  • Explores the life, achievements, and influence of one of America's biggest musical icons, set against the history of Motown and the last fifty years of popular music
  • Based on extensive interviews with Motown producers, music executives, songwriters, and musicians, including founding Temptation Otis Williams, Mickey Stevenson, surviving Funk Brother Eddie Willis, synthesizer genius Malcolm Cecil, guitar legend Michael Sembello, and many others
  • Traces Stevie's personal and musical development through the decades, from the early 1960s R&B of "Fingertips" to the social and political themes of "Living for the City" and other 1970s classics, through periods of musical and personal confusion, uncertainty, and, later, renewal

Read Signed, Sealed, and Delivered to explore the life and work of one of pop music's most compelling masters of invention.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From the rollicking debut of “Fingertips—Part 2” to the funk piano and synthesizers of “Superstition” to the political rap of “Superstition,” Stevie Wonder's brilliant music has managed to capture the hearts of his listeners while at the same time probing the limits of musical styles and moving soul and rhythm and blues to new musical levels. Born in poverty in Saginaw, Mich., Wonder lost his sight soon after he was born. His blindness heightened his sense of hearing, and he soon began to master the toy musical instruments that his absentee father brought him. Very soon, Wonder graduated from toys to the real things: his barber gave him a Hohner chromatic harmonica; his church choir director, as well as his neighbor, allowed him to play for hours on their pianos; and the local Lions Club gave a drum set to Stevie after hearing him play it. Soon Wonder was the hit of Motown, and his career took off like a comet, only to burn out and lose some of its fiery glow in the 1980s and 1990s. Music journalist Ribowsky (The Supremes; He's a Rebel) traces the rapid ascent of Wonder's musical career as well as the tumultuous ups and downs of his personal life in this workmanlike and pedantic book. Ribowsky's exploration of Wonder's music is first-rate, but his tendency to overlook Wonder's faults turns this into one fan's hagiography. (May)
From the Publisher
* "…a good read…" (Echoes, May 2010)

"…a fluid and lively read, critical and celebratory..." (Time Out, May 2010)

From the rollicking debut of "Fingertips—Part 2" to the funk piano and synthesizers of "Superstition" to the political rap of "Superstition," Stevie Wonder's brilliant music has managed to capture the hearts of his listeners while at the same time probing the limits of musical styles and moving soul and rhythm and blues to new musical levels. Born in poverty in Saginaw, Mich., Wonder lost his sight soon after he was born. His blindness heightened his sense of hearing, and he soon began to master the toy musical instruments that his absentee father brought him. Very soon, Wonder graduated from toys to the real things: his barber gave him a Hohner chromatic harmonica; his church choir director, as well as his neighbor, allowed him to play for hours on their pianos; and the local Lions Club gave a drum set to Stevie after hearing him play it. Soon Wonder was the hit of Motown, and his career took off like a comet, only to burn out and lose some of its fiery glow in the 1980s and 1990s. Music journalist Ribowsky (The Supremes; He's a Rebel) traces the rapid ascent of Wonder's musical career as well as the tumultuous ups and downs of his personal life in this workmanlike and pedantic book. Ribowsky's exploration of Wonder's music is first-rate, but his tendency to overlook Wonder's faults turns this into one fan's hagiography. (May) (Publishers Weekly, March 22, 2010)

Library Journal
Ribowsky follows biographies of the Supremes, Phil Spector (He's a Rebel), and Satchel Paige (Don't Look Back) with a captivating look at this legend of popular music. From Stevland Morris's childhood in Saginaw, MI, Ribowsky traces his metamorphosis into Little Stevie the Wonder Boy and beyond, culminating in the musician and icon we know today. He focuses on the first half of Wonder's career and spends a major portion of the book describing the inner workings of artistic development at Motown. Ribowsky wisely concentrates on the trajectory and development of Wonder's hallmark style and provides an excellent in-depth look at his 1970s albums via interviews with studio collaborators. Stevie Wonder turns 60 in May and continues to hold a prominent place in popular music, as his recent Grammy nomination proves. VERDICT This portrait of artistic development and a candid look at Motown Records in the 1960s–70s is a page-turner that will delight lovers of popular music and the Motown sound.—Bill Baars, Lake Oswego P.L., OR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470481509
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 4/26/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 712,880
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

MARK RIBOWSKY is the New York Times Notable author of The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success, and Betrayal; He's a Rebel: Phil Spector—Rock and Roll's Legendary Producer; and Don't Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball. He has written for Sport magazine and Inside Sport, was a staff writer for TV Guide, and has been a semi-regular contributor to Playboy and Penthouse. Mr. Ribowsky has been a guest on Dateline NBC, Primetime Live (ABC), Connie Chung, Geraldo Rivera, The Tavis Smiley Show, and many other network and cable TV shows.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 A World of Hurt 6

2 Motorin' 18

3 "That Shit Is Just Fantasticness!" 34

4 Jazz, Soul, and Grab-Ass 51

5 "Take a Bow, Stevie" 70

6 No Wonder 91

7 The Motown Way 110

8 Outta Sight 129

9 You Met Your Match 159

10 Pretty Heavy 179

11 The Direction of Destiny 197

12 Apocalypse Now 218

13 Stevie in Wonderland 240

14 "We're Almost Finished" 261

15 The Clock of Now 276

16 Epilogue . . . Prologue 293

Discography: Stevie Wonder's Chart Hits 312

Index 321

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Customer Reviews

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