In 1976, singer/songwriter/piano man Stevie Wonder released his eighteenth album, one that would become one of his best: Songs in the Key of Life.
Disillusioned with living in the US and his music career, Wonder was ready to quit the limelight when he signed a new contract with Motown Records in 1975.
He signed a seven album, seven year deal worth approximately $37 million, giving Wonder full artistic control and resulting in the biggest deal giving to a recording artist to date.
Deciding to focus on a big project, Wonder chose a double album as the first of the contract, recording it in Hollywood over the next year. Wonder worked with many significant musicians including Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Minnie Riperton, Mike Sembello and Deniece Williams.
Released in September 1976, the album debuted on the Billboard Album charts at number one, the third album to do so. Easily labelled as R&B, funk, jazz and soul, the album’s popularity led it to be 80 weeks on the Billboard charts. The album’s singles spawned just as much attention – including “Isn’t She Lovely, I Wish, Sir Duke and As”.
The album’s popularity led to seven Grammy nominations in February 1977, and Wonder won for Album of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Producer of the Year.
And for those lucky buyers who purchased the album’s special edition upon release received an A Something Extra’s EP with four extra songs including Ebony Eyes.
Considered one of his best albums of his career, Wonder’s album has been publicly praised by many including Elton John, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Will Smith.
And for fans, this album is one that always gets a thumb’s up for its unique sounds as a result of Wonder and over 130 musicians and performers who put it all into this album.