Stevie Wonder has released some new music — with a new twist.
Wonder, who signed with Motown Records as an 11-year-old, announced Tuesday he has formed his own label, with two new singles to be distributed by Republic Records — home to hot pop stars such as Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Post Malone.
Wonder had released more than two dozen albums and charted nearly 50 Top 40 hits with Motown and its affiliated labels since joining the Detroit-born company in 1961.
The two new songs — “Where Is Our Love Song” and “Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate” — were released Tuesday afternoon on Wonder’s new So What the Fuss Music, a label name inspired by his 2005 collaboration with Prince. The songs may ultimately become part of a Wonder EP with various artists, he told journalists during a Zoom media event.
“Even if I’ve left Motown, I never leave Motown,” he said. “That’s Detroit.”
Wonder said the Republic deal came about after conversations with Republic founder and CEO Monte Lipman and singer-songwriter India Arie, who has been with the label since 2007. Like the current incarnation of Motown, Republic is part of the Universal Music Group family.
“Just based on where I was and what they’re doing, I thought it would be a good fit,” Wonder said.
Wonder’s 2016 single “Faith,” featuring Ariana Grande, was issued on Republic as part of the soundtrack for the animated film “Sing.” He didn’t rule out future work with Motown, possibly including his long-discussed “Gospel Inspired by Lula,” in honor of his late mother, Lula Mae Hardaway.
“Where Is Our Love Song,” featuring rock-blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr., grew out of music Wonder began writing when he was 18, he said Tuesday. He wrote the lyrics during the past year, compelled to address “all the confusion, all the hate, east-versus-west, left-versus-right — just a heartbreak.”
All proceeds from the single will go to Feeding America, a nonprofit organization of nationwide food banks.
“Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate” includes guests Busta Rhymes, Rapsody, Cordae and Chika. Written a few years ago as a relationship-themed song, Wonder dusted it off, again inspired by the events of the day and young people who in his words are declaring: “This stuff here is unacceptable. We cannot be a united people of this nation, united people of this world, and still have this craziness.”
“We must do everything to perpetuate life every way that we can,” Wonder said. “I want everyone to be well. I don’t care what color you are — I don’t see visual color. But I do feel your soul. I feel your spirit. I see the color of your spirit and soul.”
In wide-ranging conversation — where he sat outdoors and occasionally played impromptu on his harpejji — Wonder reiterated themes he has emphasized in recent video talks and in an August interview with the Detroit Free Press.
That included his push for a national period of atonement, “at least three to five years,” for America’s history of slavery and other racial injustice, as he said Tuesday.
The Saginaw native also referenced the foiled plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, lamenting the tensions coursing through the U.S.
“How did we get here?” he said.
Wonder, who received a kidney transplant in December, said he “feels great.”
“I told my daughter Aisha: I’m going to be five years younger than you now. I’m going from being 70 to being 40,” he said. “I feel about 40 now. I thank everyone for their prayers and their love, and I’m feeling great.”
Wonder, blind since he was a newborn, joked that he looks forward to being around long enough for the arrival of self-driving cars.
(Article written by Brian McCollum)