hmv's Albums of 2014: Stevie Wonder
Every day throughout January we're going to be previewing 2014's biggest records. Today, we focus on Stevie Wonder, who is set to have quite the year...
A Little Background...
Signing to Tamla Motown, at just 11 years old, multi-instrumentalist Stevie Wonder has enthralled the world time and time again with his innovative music. His most critically acclaimed work remains his string of groundbreaking soul recordings released in the 70s; his sound evolved constantly, taking in many different influences and tempos.
Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life are widely regarded as landmarks in both his career and the evolution of soul music (Kanye West has mentioned these two albums as the standard of music he aspires to create). Wonder's popularity continued to grow during the 80s with four studio albums and several other projects spawning dozens of hit singles including one of his biggest, 'I Just Called to Say I Love You'.
He released two studio albums in the 90s and then in 2005 he released A Time to Love, his 23rd studio album. Since filing for his second divorce in 2012, Wonder has been busy composing music and looks set to make up a dry spell that has lasted almost a decade with his sights set on releasing two, or maybe even three albums, this year.
What's Are They Called?
When the World Began, Ten Billion Hearts and Gospel Inspired by Lula.
What Will It Sound Like?
Wonder will be joined by a symphony orchestra while recording When the World Began which will feature new songs as well as new arrangements of several of his well-known hits (including 'Isn't She Lovely' and 'I Just Called to Say I Love You'). The title track When the World Began is likely to be the first single to be released off the upcoming album.
Wonder has spoken about being inspired by hip-hop and, ever keen to move forward, he wants to create something different. The results should make his upcoming solo album, Ten Billion Hearts, rather interesting and could introduce his voice and amazing songs to a whole new generation. During the 2012 Billboard Music Awards he gave the ecstatic audience an idea of what's to come as he performed the song 'Ten Billion Hearts' which oozed a sumptuous melody, a trademark harmonica solo and a full gospel choir accompaniment. You can hear it below.
Making good on a promise to his beloved mother, Lula, who passed away in 2006, Wonder is working on a traditional gospel album called Gospel Inspired by Lula. He has said he wants the album's message to be focused on love, which is common to all religions that believe in the word, however, he wants to do it in a unique way and will possibly even record a song in either Arabic or Hebrew. Sounds ambitious.
Who's Producing It? Are There Any Big-Name Guests?
Wonder is working in collaboration with fellow multi-Grammy winner and producer David Foster. Former collaborators, the a cappella sextet Take 6, have also been involved in the recordings. Following news about the inclusion of the song 'This Town', penned by Wonder at the age of 13, it has been speculated that Tony Bennett may be a guest on the album as Bennett has sung 'This Town' before.
Will It Really Come Out This Year? And When?
In a career that has spanned 50 years, the legendary Stevie Wonder is clearly not done. He is passionately creating, innovating and refining his sound yet again. There are no confirmed release dates, but it's certain that the music is on its way. The question is, will it be one, two, or all three albums coming out this year?