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Got Rhythm—and Blues

Studio Sound, Wonder Boy, A Chart Topper

Stevie was a good musician, but his talent was still raw. He needed to sharpen his skills as both a musician and a singer. His harmonica playing had incredible range. A few years before, his uncle had given Stevie a Hohner chromatic harmonica to replace the four-note toy he'd played on. Stevie then really began to play.

He used his hearing to pull every note he could from that harmonica. Now, it seemed his practice was paying off. What you and I might call practice was not how Stevie saw his music playing. “I never considered it practice because I loved it too much,” he remembered. “It was like searching in a new place you've never been before. I kept finding new things, new chords, new tunes.”

Stevie had to balance his school with his budding music career. He'd go to school until three o'clock and then be driven to the Hitsville USA studios to play and record. Stevie was a rhythm and blues musician. That's the kind of music he'd listened to for seven years already. Rhythm and blues is what he mimicked from the radio. He'd developed his own style from learning to play tunes he'd heard on the air. Hitsville USA didn't want Stevie to change his playing. They did, however, want him to learn their musical style.

Additional topics

Musician BiographiesStevie Wonder