Music legend Stevie Wonder finally revealed the truth about his sight.
Stevland Hardaway Morris, 71, known professionally as Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. A renowned figure in popular music during the second half of the 20th century, he is one of the most successful songwriters and musicians.
Blind since shortly after his birth, Wonder was a child prodigy known as Little Stevie Wonder, leading him to sign with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of 11.
He is one of the greatest musicians of the 1970s and beyond. When he was 11 years old, his initial music was heard by Ronnie White of The Miracles, who liked what he heard and took him to the local recording company, where he landed his first record deal.
And at the age of 13, Wonder had his first number one hit, “Fingertips,” and he became the youngest artist to ever top the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
His remarkable start in his profession set Wonder’s award-winning career. At 27, he won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year three consecutive albums in a row, tying with the legendary Frank Sinatra.
Then, in his 30s, he won an Oscar for Best Original Song for the romantic comedy film “The Woman in Red” in 1985. This made him the first Motown artist and only the second African American artist ever to receive the award.
The 71-year-old is proof that one can achieve great things despite having a disability. Many people know that the musical legend is blind, but not everyone is aware of how he lost his sight.
Stevie was born in Steveland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw, Michigan, on May 13, 1950. Born six weeks prematurely, he was placed in an incubator at the hospital and was given oxygen. He wasn’t born blind.
But the combination of being born so early and being given too much oxygen led to a condition named retinopathy of prematurity, which results in the eyes not developing, causing the retinas to detach, and ultimately leading to blindness.
In a 2004 interview with Oprah Winfrey, he opened up about the reason why he can’t see. Winfrey asked, “Weren’t you put in an incubator and given too much oxygen?”
The famous singer replied: “Right — I was premature. My doctor didn’t know what’s known now about the right amount of oxygen, so I was given too much and an area of my eyes was destroyed.” He added, “A girl who was born one minute before me actually died. She couldn’t withstand that much oxygen.”
Then Winfrey asked him if he felt resentful about the doctor’s mistake, he replied “No. Once when I went to Saginaw, Michigan, and visited the hospital where I was born, there was this big hoopla — they gave me a special award. I think people were scared I was planning to sue that doctor’s ass. But he didn’t have any intent to harm me.”
Stevie was also asked if he would consider going back to change being blind he said he wouldn’t, saying “I don’t regret what happened because it made me who I am. But I’d love to see.”
Lula Mae Hardaway, Stevie’s mother, developed a strong connection to Stevie. He explained “It bothered me that my mother was crying all the time. She thought God might be punishing her for something. She lived during a time when things were particularly difficult for a woman in her circumstances.”
He mentions that he used to say that if anything were to happen to his mother that he’d want to die with her because he loved her so much. However, he realized he wants to live so that he “can carry out the essence of what she has shown (him): kindness and goodness.”
He revealed that the biggest lesson his mother has taught him was: “To persevere. To never be ashamed. To not let my past bury me.”
Stevie Wonder has shown the entire world that being blind does not mean you can’t accomplish things. The legendary musician did something no one had done before and he is a true role model for so many people.
He told The Guardian “Do you know, it’s funny, but I never thought of being blind as a disadvantage, and I never thought of being black as a disadvantage. I am what I am. I love me! And I don’t mean that egotistically – I love that God has allowed me to take whatever it was that I had and to make something out of it.”