A Time To Love - Press Release
MSNBC Newsweek Entertainment
"I Have a Vision"
Stevie Wonder discusses his work, his children and the delays in releasing his new album
Johnnie L. Roberts
June 15, 2005 Issue
Steveland Morris was signed to Motown Records in 1961 and released
his first hit record, “Fingertips,” two years later at age 12. In 1965
came Little Stevie Wonder’s worldwide hit “Uptight (Everythings
Alright),” the first in a years-long string of top 40 smashes. When his
contract ended in 1971, he balked at immediately resigning with Motown.
Instead, he recorded two albums on his own, largely solitary efforts in
which he played every instrument. Upon rejoining Motown, he delivered a
series of mostly brilliant albums, culminating with “Conversation Peace”
in 1995. Since then, Wonder’s global fan base has anxiously awaited the
next studio album as he recorded scores of songs and successive Motown
CEOs staked their careers in part on delivering the record. NEWSWEEK'S
Johnnie L. Roberts talked to Wonder recently about the travails of
producing his first studio album in a decade:
NEWSWEEK: After 10 years and two missed release dates since May, why
doesn’t Motown yet have your new recording, “A Time to Love?”
Stevie Wonder: The reason they haven’t gotten it is, I’m not ready
to give it to them. Certain [release] dates been set and changed. That’s
because I decided to do a couple extra songs that I wasn’t going to do.
If it were possible, I would have done a double CD. It’s just a matter
of me deciding what I’m saying and the statement I want to make with “A
Time to Love.” Obviously, things are a little different now than when I
was working on “Songs in the Key of Life” [Wonder’s 1976 double album],
and I had one child about to be born. Now that I have seven children,
there are different things that take the time. The good thing about
having the family and more children is there’s cause for even more to
write about and sing about. However long it will take, I’m giving the
very best I can. I have a vision, and I won’t settle for less … Probably
the most important thing is if I’ve been working on songs for 10 years,
what’s a couple more months?
The talk in Internet chat rooms suggest that your fans are becoming
increasingly frustrated by the postponements. What’s your reaction?
I can understand that. But as much as it may cause frustration,
hopefully the consequences will be they are going to be happier with the
album they will get than the one they might have got sooner. If I had
given the album two years ago, I wouldn’t have had my daughter singing
on it. When it feels right is when I do it. I can only apologize in that
I did say it was going to be out on this or that date. I’m not going to
say anything [more about a release date.] But the moment it comes out I
want them to make it No. 1.
Motown CEO Sylvia Rhone is counting on your record as the linchpin
of her strategy for reinvigorating the label? Does your delay in turning
in the recording put her in a difficult position?
I like Sylvia’s heart. We have developed good communications. She’s
a little frustrated, and maybe there’s pressure she’s facing. I
understand all that. Obviously, they would have liked to have had it
yesterday. And I probably would liked to have had it day before
yesterday. But I wouldn’t give less than God wanted me to give. I’ve had
a chance to talk with her, and explain to her where I’m coming from and
sharing with her that I understand dates and time far more than anyone
on this planet. I just say that we have an issue where things are
happening on time or in time. I say that in time God will give me what I
need to do the album on time. In a perfect world, it would have been
great to have the album and single [“So What the Fuss”] out at the same
time. I’ve said Sylvia that when I’m done, I will bring it to them, and
they can have a press conference with me giving it to them.
Apparently, there’s concern inside Universal Music Group that the
emphasis on your project is diverting time and resources from other
Again, this is my craft, my art form. My feeling is that is my
statement, my expression. Other artists—I have nothing to do with that.
It’s my life I’m giving.
“So What the Fuss,” the first single was put out in advance of the
album, a typical strategy to herald a forthcoming release. Now, a second
single, “From the Bottom of My Heart,” has been released, despite the
fact that there’s not even a release date for the album. That seems odd.
What’s the rationale?
There was a desire [by the record company] to put out the second
single. From the very beginning, they wanted “From the Bottom of My
Heart” as the first single. But I didn’t want to do what one would
typically expect. And I don’t regret it. I’m excited that the response
to “So What the Fuss” has been interesting. I would never limit what God
has given me to one particular thing. For artists and songwriters, it’s
a challenge to do different things.