This was a far cry from the Lutheran church we had previously attended, that had a quiet liturgical service. My parents were adventurous, and they were excited about this new worship style. Me? Well, it was a bit confusing and unsettling to have such a radical change . . . but I carry in my heart some wonderful memories from this Pentecostal church with lots of African Americans and lots of hippies (it was the 60's after all . . .) My favorite thing about this church, when I look back, is "the music." That's also my favorite thing about the liturgical Lutheran service -- lol!
So in the 70's when Stevie Wonder hit the music scene full force with his own blend of blues and jazz, there was a familiar ring to his sound, to me. I bought his album, Songs in the Key of Life, in the early '80's and sometimes would turn it on in my cassette player. My very favorite song from this album is one that was also a favorite for LOTS of people-- it was #1 in the US Billboard Hot 100 songs chart for 14 (nonconsecutive) weeks in 1977. That song was a tribute to some influential giants of jazz-- Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and one he called "the king"-- Duke Ellington.
Wonder is not Stevie's real name; Stevie isn't, either-- his name is "Stevland Morris." His first stage name was "Little Stevie Wonder"-- and he was truly a wonder; an amazing harmonica player and singer, he was signed as an artist with Motown Records at age 11. Little Stevie Wonder was the youngest artist in history to take first place in the Billboard Hot 100-- at age 13, with his song "Fingertips" (1963). If you'd like to see and hear a short video of this incredible song, see this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3ubgVjp3CY
The song I'd like to feature here was recorded 14 years and 22 albums later . . . "Sir Duke."
A few months ago, I had the privilege of helping with refreshments at a jazz concert at my daughter's college, and got to hear an instrumental version of this song. You could see people all over the room moving to the music and toe-tapping (including me). After they finished the piece, the director said, "If that song doesn't make you happy, you need to check your pulse." And he was right. So, for your listening happiness, here is a video with
"Sir Duke." This one has no images-- just the words to the song (the video was created by Kieran Heatley-- thanks, Kieran!) I found it interesting to follow along while listening; when I've heard it before I haven't understood all the words. Also, since Stevie Wonder has been blind since just after birth, maybe this is more how he would experience the song (just a dark background-- he wouldn't read the words, but he already knows them ) . . .