The Apollo Theater announced Wednesday that it plans to induct Stevie Wonder into its Hall of Fame.
The legendary singer, born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, first performed at the Harlem landmark in 1962 at the age of 12. He joins other Hall of Famers Patti LaBelle, Quincy Jones, James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Little Richard, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson and Gladys Knight & The Pips. All have performed at the Apollo.
"Stevie Wonder is a natural choice," said Nina Flowers, the Apollo's publicity director. "He performed his first hit 'Fingertips' on this stage. It's only natural for us to honor the people who have come from this stage and who continue to support the Apollo."
In nearly five decades of recording albums, Wonder has released more than two dozen Top 10 hits, including "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours," "Superstition," and I "Wish."
"Stevie has over half a century of music production that's really been, in some respects, a major part of the African-American soundtrack for the 20th century," said Howard Dodson, director of the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. "His work has assumed its own state of classical existence and he, as a musician, ranks in the upper echelon of people who have not only produced incredible work, but have influenced the work of so many others."
Dodson added that Wonder had also made significant efforts to highlight social injustice and inequality in America, including his successful efforts to make Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday a national holiday. "He's been with social and political groups of all kinds through the years, providing musical testament to the significance, value and meaning and our struggle freedom and dignity in this country," Dodson said. "In the hearts and minds of many African-Americans and many people outside of the African-American community, Stevie is something of a voice of consciousness. He reminds people of the better self that they are capable of being, and the nation of the better nation we are capable of being."
Stevie Wonder will be officially inducted into the Apollo Hall of Fame in a special ceremony in New York City on June 13. The theater started its list of award winners in 2005.