Stevie Wonder held a virtual press conference on Tuesday (Oct. 13) during which he said, “I’m going to do something today I’ve never done before.” He then made three major announcements.
First, the 70-year-old legend — who has spent his entire career on Motown — revealed he has partnered with Republic Records to launch his own imprint, So What the Fuss Music. He remains within the Universal Music Group family. Additionally, Wonder revealed he’s releasing two new songs today: “Can’t Put It in The Hands of Fate,” featuring Rapsody, Cordae, Chika, and Busta Rhymes, and “Where Is Our Love Song,” featuring Gary Clark Jr. All of the proceeds from the latter single will benefit Feeding America.
Last summer, Wonder revealed during London’s BST Festival that he would be taking a break from performing to undergo a kidney transplant. I’m all good, I’m all good, all good,” he assured at the time. “I have a donor and it’s all good.” He successfully had the transplant in Dec. 2019, and until today has been on hiatus.
Berry Gordy, now 90, first signed Wonder to a recording contract with Motown’s Tamla label in 1961 — Wonder was just 11 years old. Since then, Wonder has earned 74 Grammy nominations (he’s won 25) and collected 28 Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits. He’s also become an active voice in political issues, from his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the United States, to his current calls-to-action amidst ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.
In September, Wonder uploaded a seven-minute video on his YouTube page called “The Universe Is Watching Us — Stevie Wonder In His Feelings,” which has accumulated more than 200,000 views. He posted it in response to the news that a Kentucky police officer had been indicted on charges related to — though not directly connected to — the murder of Breonna Taylor during a March raid at her home. The video was similar to one that Wonder shared in June, during the initial rise of protests following the killing of George Floyd.
Last year Motown celebrated its 60th anniversary with a succession of events, activities and special releases that filled 2019. And last month, Motown announced its expansion with the launch of Motown Records U.K. Current label president Ethiopia Habtemariam — who joined the label in 2011 as senior vp and became label head three years later, replacing Sylvia Rhone — has largely helped rejuvenate Motown over the past several years, partly thanks to a joint venture with Quality Control (Migos, Lil Yachty, Lil Baby and City Girls).
However, Wonder hasn’t released a new studio album since Rhone took over in 2005; his 23rd studio album, A Time to Love, arrived that October and hit No. 5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. (“So What the Fuss” was an album single by Wonder featuring En Vogue and Prince.) But now, these two new singles and fresh start mean there’s more to come. Wonder — who says he still may partner with Motown on a future Gospel release — teased an upcoming EP, tentatively titled Can’t Put It In the Hands of Fate, and also revealed his next full-length will be titled Through the Eyes Of Wonder.