Stevie Wonder has been presented the “Key of Life” award.
The legendary musician earned the prestigious accolade at the ASCAP I Create Music Expo in Los Angeles on Saturday evening. Wonder received recognition for being someone who “inspires and elevates the world through his songs, his spirit and his boundless heart,” said ASCAP president and chairman Paul William.
As Wonder was escorted on stage by singer-songwriter Janelle Monae, the 25-time Grammy award winner shared his gratitude for everyone in attendance.
“I cannot thank any of you enough, so I’ll just spend the rest of my life doing that — whether you like it or not,” he expressed before turning the mic over to Monae for a two hour interview.
Wonder also serenaded the crowd with a few classics such as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and “Superstition” alongside Monae. The 66-year-old performed a new ballad as well, titled “Where’s Our Love Song.” He has had the track’s melody crafted since 1971.
I knew I wanted to do this song at some point,” the multi-instrumentalist revealed. “Then I witnessed what’s been going on recently, all of the negativity. So when I did come back to the song, I was able to write the words because it represented what my heart was feeling.”
Here is what some of what Wonder had to say about his successful career.
Joining Motown at such a young age: “It was just exciting to go to the studio and play the instruments. And it was a wonderful thing because I had a chance to grow up in music with the great musicians and singers there. I was just taking it all in. I loved music so I did it all the time. There was no [formal rehearsal] schedule. I’d beat on the walls in front of the house until someone would come out and say get that boy in the house, he’s making too much noise.”
Maintaining a commitment to music: “You have to put work into that which you love. Then you’ve got to listen objectively. It’s fun to get to a place where you can challenge. When I was doing Songs in the Key of Life, I had this little transmitter that I hooked up and would listen, listen and listen. It’s all about the feeling every time.”
Accomplishing deadlines: “I wish I could do that. Everyone at Motown would love if I could have done that. The bill collectors would love if I did that. I’m not challenged by, ‘OK, you’ve got to get this out by this time.’ I try to do that but I don’t lock my self into It. If it’s doesn’t feel right, it’s just not done.”
Artists’ social power: There’s always power in the work. This isn’t the first time that people have protested and marched. But I would say don’t be afraid to express your truth but do it with love. So those of us who have been blessed with the gift of expression, don’t be afraid to express your truth. But do it with love. When you think about it, music is probably the most integrated thing that we have. We’re all influenced by each other.”