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Friday, January 27, 2023

A Language We All Understand

Stevland Hardaway Morris walked onto the stage at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, Tuesday night, guided by the beautiful rhythm and blues singer and songwriter India Aria (wearing a stunning white dress and white turban) and it was a wonder to behold. For nearly four hours, the 64-year-old musician, who we’ve known as Stevie Wonder since the world met him as a child prodigy, regaled the audience with stories (he had plenty) and songs, which he also had plenty of.

My husband had seen Mr. Wonder in 2010 at the legendary music festival, Bonnaroo, held in June in Manchester, Tennessee. When the opportunity arose to see him in the “Songs in the Key of Life Tour” in Nashville, tickets were scored as Valentine’s Day/Anniversary present. The show was an absolute treat.

Wonder opened the show with unbridled enthusiasm, statements about love, and a comment I especially liked: “If you hate anyone, you’re blocking your blessings.”

Mr. Wonder and his band of 20 (plus 10 local string musicians) nailed tightly each of the 21 tracks of the ambitious 1976 double album, “Songs in the Key of Life.” His voice, though matured a bit, still possesses incredible range and strength. Tuesday night he sang, played keyboards and piano and the harmonica.

A fun moment in the evening was when the musician called his daughter Aisha on an iPhone to wish her happy birthday. With Aisha on the line, her image projected on the big screens through FaceTime, Wonder sang the song he wrote about her birth, “Isn’t She Lovely?”

Mr. Wonder struck me as a very affable man — and he clearly has many friends in Nashville. Several joined him onstage for the night’s finale, “Superstition” — including Steven Tyler, frontman of Aerosmith, and comedian Dave Chappelle.

If I could have stayed for the next night’s show, I would have!

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