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5 Iconic Moments from the Life of Legendary Stevie Wonder on His 72nd Birthday

Titi Dokubo
May 13, 2022
12:40 P.M.
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Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and one of the most-loved American musicians, Stevie Wonder, was born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, and turned 72 on May 13, 2022.

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The former child prodigy became one of the most creative musical figures to reckon with in the 20th century. He gave the world hits like "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," "Fingertips, Pt. 2," "My Cherie Amour," "Superstition," and "I Was Made to Love Her." 

Besides being a singer and songwriter, Stevie Wonder is also a humanitarian and activist whose philanthropic efforts have been recognized by various committees, foundations, and programs.

Rita Moreno, Stevie Wonder, and John Legend at the LDF 34th National Equal Justice Awards Dinner on May 10, 2022 | Source: Getty Images

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The EGOT winner spearheaded a campaign to make Martin Luther King Day a national holiday in the United States. Before that, he created his version of "Happy Birthday" to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

For his 72nd birthday, Wonder was surprised as actress, dancer, and singer Rita Moreno serenaded him with an impromptu performance of his 1980 "Happy Birthday" song.

Moreno did the song after she presented him with the LFD Inaugural Icon Award at the 34th National Equal Justice Awards Dinner for the Legal Defense Fund.

Stevie Wonder in London on January 29, 1974 | Source: Getty Images

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5 ICONIC MOMENTS FROM STEVIE WONDER'S LIFE AND CAREER

In life, Wonder's favorite word became "blessed." He heard his mother say the word repeatedly while growing up. He was "blessed" with music and "blessed" to survive a car crash in 1973. He has been "blessed" with his children and now considers his blindness a kind of blessing.

The singer became blind as a baby but showed a gift for music by the time he was four. Before turning ten, he taught himself how to play various instruments, and he signed a record deal at 11.

Stevie Wonder at the premiere of Apple's "They Call Me Magic" in Los Angeles on April 14, 2022 | Source: Getty Images

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In 1989, Wonder became the youngest living person to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at 38. On March 7, 2022, he received an honorary doctorate from Wayne State University.

Before he turned 30, the singer — who has 25 Grammy wins to date — won three Grammy awards for Album of the Year, a record he shares with Frank Sinatra and Paul Simon.

Being an activist, the artist also sings for change. Wonder is the second voice you heard when the all-star U.S.A. for Africa group sang "We Are the World" in 1985 to benefit African famine relief.

Stevie Wonder at the 1986 Grammy Awards | Source: Getty Images

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HOW DID STEVIE BECOME BLIND?

Wonder was born six weeks early with retinopathy of prematurity. The eye disorder is caused by abnormal blood vessels throughout the retina, making him lose sight.

He was put in an incubator as a premature baby, but the oxygen he received was too much and likely worsened his condition, leaving him blind.

Photo of Stevie Wonder as a boy | Source: Getty Images

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Despite his loss of sight, the singer had hope, was happy as a child, and never felt hindered by his disability. At five, he once said to his mother:

"Don't worry about me being blind because I'm happy."

Wonder revealed that losing sight helped him use his imagination to go places. It also helped him write words about things he had heard people talk about, helping him associate what people said with what was inside him.

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