Coming of Age at Motown
Growing Up And Away
Stevie graduated from the Michigan School for the Blind when he was nineteen years old. This was June 1969, and he was a pop star. But Stevie didn't want to be a pop star anymore. He wanted to be his own man. He wanted to be an entertainer. Stevie had a vision about his career that did not connect well with the Motown executives. Motown didn't want their musical acts to work too independently. They wanted to maintain the Motown sound that had made the company so successful. They were used to directing their artists' development, each song that was recorded, and all stage performances. Stevie had other ideas. Motown didn't seem to have a clue as to what Stevie really wanted to do with his music.
In a 1969 interview, Stevie commented on the direction his music was headed. “Have you heard the Temptations’ ‘Cloud Nine'? It's more or less what we call funkadelic. It's a combination of R & B, psychedelic, and funky African-type beat. I'm experimenting. A lot of things I've done recently are funkadelic.”
In late 1969, Stevie released the album Signed, Sealed & Delivered. It was released under the Motown record label, but Stevie had produced the album himself. Stevie oversaw every detail of its production. This album represented his first real independence from Motown. The album reflected Stevie's independence completely. For one thing, no two songs sounded the same on this album. Stevie had combined his forward vision to create vocals and arrangements that would seal his stardom forever. Each song was charged with an electricity buzzing from Stevie's enthusiastic voice. On several songs, he played all the instruments. The album was both a masterpiece and a calling card: Stevie was ready to take on the music world on his own terms.
Stevie's inner strength came from his vision and talent, and through the help of his mother. He also had outside inspiration. Stevie had met a woman named Syreeta Wright in 1967. Syreeta once worked as a secretary at Motown. Syreeta was also a singer/songwriter. The two fell in love after a long and close friendship. The lyrics to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours” were a collaboration between the two. The lyrics also spoke of their mutual love and respect for each other. On September 14, 1970, Stevie and Syreeta married in Detroit. Little Stevie Wonder had stepped out on his own.