“Little” Stevie Wonder: Motown musical prodigy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Stevie Wonder began his career as a soul musician at Motown records at the age of 11. His work there playing R&B represented high levels of virtuoso ability on harmonica, percussion, and eventually keyboards, as well as virtuosity as a singer, songwriter, and sound engineer. Wonder drew on musical codes taken from African American sacred and secular traditions not only to create distinctive performances of musical works, but also to improvise in dialogue with other musicians and with interactive audiences. As a child prodigy in the modern music industry and a child entertainer, Wonder’s case shows how critical social factors are in the recognition and success of popular musical prodigies. Moreover, as an artist who successfully and healthfully made the transition from child entertainer to adult pop star, Wonder’s case shows the potential impact of supportive, communal music-making.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMusical Prodigies
Subtitle of host publicationInterpretations from Psychology, Music Education, Musicology, and Ethnomusicology
EditorsGary McPherson
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199685851
StatePublished - 2016


  • Stevie Wonder
  • prodigy
  • African American music
  • R&B
  • Motown
  • soul music


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