Archive for the ‘Stevie Wonder’ Category

Stevie Wonder Salute: Seriously? Close Your Eyes?

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Last night during the Salute to Stevie Wonder, the host, LL Cool J asked the audience including all of the viewers watching at home, to close their eyes “to share Stevie’s inner visions.” This request which supposedly came from Stevie was right before LL introduced Neo to perform “Isn’t She Lovely.”

As a Stevie fan for life, it’s hard for me to say this but honestly I thought this was whack.

I can’t understand the possible message here. Stevie celebrating the birth of his first daughter wrote this great song to share the incredible feeling of love he had for his child. The genius behind this song has nothing to do with the fact that he cannot see her face. It’s the ability to capture these feelings and put them into words and rhythm we can all feel. Stevie’s genius his totally based on his abilities. The fact that he is blind and had such incredible talent was Motown marketing. It was the obvious way to promote the young artist.

The bigger issue here for me and I’m sure others who advocate and promote the inclusion of people with vision loss in all aspects of society is the act of closing your eyes in no way simulates blindness. All you did is close your eyes.

Blindness is not simply the inability to see, in fact, most people who are blind are not totally blind. The issue that blindness presents is the lack of access to information. When the studio audience closed their eyes, they missed nothing. Host LL continued to speak and fully related the information.

With access to information, money, people and probably anything that each of these brings, chances are Stevie probably doesn’t have this issue. Now again, I need to say that I love Stevie, his music, his activism and his genuine love for humanity. I know he probably meant for something positive to come from the on air exercise.

With that said, I would challenge anyone interested in learning more about the issues faced by people with vision loss or those with disabilities not to simulate what it would be like to have the disability, but rather take a look at things you encounter every day to find the accessibility challenges.

For those taking public transportation, take a look and ask if the method is accessible to those with disabilities. Can a person in a wheel chair get on the bus or train? Chances are that train station either doesn’t have an elevator or it’s out of order. Does that software or web site that you use to perform your job functions, does it work with screen readers or magnification software? There have been improvements but the estimate is that 90 percent of public websites are not accessible. And if you think government sites are better, “Most VA websites Still Inaccessible to Blind Vets.

We’re not done. Out of the millions of people watching last night’s program who closed their eyes, chances are some of them have the ability to employ some of the 50 to 70 percent of the blind people currently under or unemployed.

Last night’s performance was one of the first to include audio description to help provide information to those with vision loss. Big shout out to Stevie for his advocacy in helping to make this possible. Unfortunately, turning on SAP, which carries the description audio, is a process that requires sited assistance for most since the selection is often buried in an onscreen menu. For the record, it didn’t work with Optimum Cablevision in the Bronx where I watched the program.

Stevie has done so much for this world and I selfishly hope he will be blessed to continue for many years to come. I would just like to see the “close your eyes” segment used to start a real conversation that can lead to some much needed changes in how we as a culture view blindness and disability.

 

A Salute to Stevie Wonder Includes Audio Description

Friday, February 13th, 2015

This Monday February 16, CBS will broadcast “Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life an All-star Grammy Salute.”  I’ve been looking forward to this program for a few months now. In fact, I even added it to my calendar to assure I don’t forget.

Obviously as a big Stevie fan I’m interested in just about anything related to his work. This show combines another one of my interests and a passion of Stevie’s…Audio Description.

This broadcast will feature Audio description assisting those of us with vision loss; enabling us to have information about the parts of the program with no dialog. This isn’t the first time Stevie included description in a musical performance. His “What the Fuss” video included narration written by WGBH Media Access Group and voiced by Busta Rhymes.

Mark your calendars, Monday Feb. 16 @ 9PM!

Songs in the Key of life

Friday, December 5th, 2014

It only makes sense that I share the Reid families experience at the 2014 Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life Concert in audio.

This concert meant a great deal to me not just as a lifelong Stevie fan, but as a Dad.

If you enjoy listening half as much as I enjoyed attending the concert and then re-living it with my girls, then you’re welcome!

And now, “Reid My mind Radio…”

 

Stevie Wonder & Friends Rock the White House

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Ok, I know I’ve been writing a bit about Stevie in the past few weeks, but what can I say, Stevie’s been on my mind. No man crush or anything, he’s just Stevie and well that’s my man and dawgonit this is my blog.

 

Last night I watched Stevie receive the Gershwin Award from President Obama.

 

As a major Stevie fan, you could probably guess that I am a little critical watching others perform their rendition of a SW track. I know it’s not right to compare a non SW version to the original. Performers should bring their own style to the song and if it works great. If not, well I’m gonna talk about you! But not in public, I try not to be a hater. 

 

Some of the artist’s who paid tribute include Tony Bennett, Diana Krall,and Paul Simon, a past recipient of the award.

 

I thought I would mention a few performances that stuck out.

 

India Arie,  is just perfectly suited for Summer Soft. This wasn’t her best performance, but there is a genuine love for Stevie. She has worked with Stevie on many occasions in the past and I always feel her respect and appreciation for his contributions. You can just feel the love!

 

The intro for Higher Ground, you don’t find funk like that now a days. I was surprised that the gospel duo Mary Mary was selected to perform this classic. I have to say, if I had a chance to perform with Stevie, this would be my choice. While I enjoyed their rendition, they chose not to stray from the original. If you never heard the Red Hot Chilli Peppers version you should check it out, it’s a head banger full of their mentor George Clinton’s, hot stankin’ funk – so be careful.

 

The most noteworthy performance from those chosen  to pay tribute would have to be Esperanza Spalding’s version of “Overjoyed.”  Straight Fire! Overjoyed has been one of my favorite Stevie jams ever since I heard his performance on Saturday Night Live several years before  the song was released on  the In Square Circle album.

 

The SNL performance was simply Stevie on piano and full vocals. I always thought this version should have been released on an album. His vocals were flawless.

 

Esparanza Spalding who is a  jazz musician and vocalist took this song and blessed it with  a old school jazzy vibe with a hint of Latin flavor. I thought so much of her performance I had to grab the laptop during the show and search for her on Youtube. Seriously folks, if you are not a Stevie fan (ouch!) you should check out the show for her performance. I’m hoping she covered this on an album or will do so in the future.

 

Stevie closed the show with Signed Sealed Delivered  and Superstiscious

 

So with all of that said I will stop the Stevie coverage/comment until March 10, 2009 with the release of Live At Last! – a DVD concert from a 2008 performance in London

 

I want to take my girls to a Stevie concert someday, so in the meantime Live At Last! will have to do.

 

Now go on over and watch the performance from PBS – Library of Congress Prize for popular Song.