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Coming of Age at Motown

Short Homecomings

When Stevie did come home to attend the School for the Blind, he proved that he was always prepared. Stevie's intelligence allowed him to quickly pick up his classes where he had left off. His on-the-road studies had prepared him well for every in-class subject. “When I did go back to school,” Stevie remembered, “they had everything, like swimming, boating, skating. I was on the wrestling team for a while, on the track team for a while, we got into various outside activities. I was more interested in music. But it was a challenge.”

Did You Know?

One activity that Stevie Wonder enjoys is roller-skating. He has never let his blindness keep him from having fun.

One challenge at which Stevie succeeded was having a social life at the school. He made many friends, some of whom are still good friends today. Stevie performed in the school choir. His friends who played musical instruments always wanted to perform for Stevie. They wanted to hear what he thought of their abilities. Stevie was always willing to listen to his friends perform. They would sit in the practice rooms playing music together.

Life on the road made it difficult for Stevie to be at the school much, however. “We set a rule of thumb,” Ted Hall remembered. “If we were in the state and available for, let's say, thirty days, I would do the best I could to get Stevie in school for two weeks out of the four weeks. But I'm sure he averaged fifty percent of the time we were in Michigan at the School for the Blind.”

In between school and performing on the road, Stevie recorded songs and albums at the Motown studios. Stevie was still recording songs in the Motown formula. Some songs did well, while others did not. Stevie recorded the single “Work Out, Stevie, Work Out” just four months after “Fingertips,” but it reached only thirty-three on the charts. In 1964 Stevie recorded two singles along with a couple of albums. “Castles in the Sand” hit number fifty-two. “Hey, Harmonica Man” hit number twenty-nine. By the fall of 1965, some people in the record business were saying that Stevie had gone as far as he could go musically. Stevie was only fifteen.

Additional topics

Musician BiographiesStevie WonderComing of Age at Motown - Managing Music And School, Short Homecomings, Back On Top–this Time To Stay, Growing Up And Away