Stevie Wonder was relatively quiet for the past 15 years, but the musical icon is reclaiming the spotlight with the release of two songs on his newly created record label.
The 25-time Grammy winner’s socially conscious new material is the first music he’s released in four years. It also comes with a hint at his first new album since 2005’s A Time to Love.
With the founding of his own imprint called So What the Fuss Records — a subsidiary of the Universal-owned Republic Records — Wonder brings an end to (or at least a break from) his decades-long tenure with Motown, his musical home since 1962.
Wonder said in a Zoom news conference that he first started working on the first new single, the smooth R&B track Where Is Our Love Song, when he was 18 years old. He said he wasn’t sure what to make of it back then. “But then there came this year that we’re dealing with, and there came all of the confusion and all of the hate, and all the east versus west, left versus right, just heartbreak,” he said. Newly inspired, he finished the song with newly written lyrics and brought in Gary Clark Jr. to play guitar.
Proceeds from the sales of Where Is Our Love Song will go toward Feeding America, a U.S.-wide network of food banks that Wonder says has asked for $1 billion in donations to help families in need.
The second new single, Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate, is a punchy, politically timely funk tune that features rappers Busta Rhymes, Rapsody, Chika, and Cordae, along with backing vocals by five of his children. Wonder said he had come up with the idea for the song a few years ago, but he only completed it recently.
“When I first wrote it, it was about a relationship,” he said during his news conference. “And then I was thinking about where we are in the world and I was thinking … this craziness is unacceptable. We’re not going for it anymore. Change is right now.”
Wonder said the two new tracks may be included on an EP that’s currently in progress. If that doesn’t pan out, they may instead be included on his upcoming album Through the Eyes of Wonder.
The singer said he’s also working on a gospel album called Gospel Inspired by Lula, named after his mother. For that release, he left the door open for a potential return to Motown.
Wonder had a lot more to say in his hour-long news conference, including comments on the U.S. political climate, the importance of the press, life during the pandemic, and the current state of his health.
Wonder said he has been recovering well after being “blessed with a new kidney” last December. “I feel great, my voice feels great,” he said.
Wonder’s last musical output was the song Faith, his 2016 collaboration with pop star Ariana Grande for the film Sing. In 2009, he released the Grammy-nominated single All About the Love Again, which was part of the 2009 compilation Change is Now: Renewing America’s Promise.