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A Time To Love - Press Release

Jet Magazine

Stevie Wonder Reveals How He Ignored Ten Years of Pressure
Aldore D. Collier
24 October 2005

For Stevie Wonder, when it’s right, it’s right. And that simple credo helped him ignore a decade of pressure to produce his latest album A Time to Love.

Fans were very anxious, and so were record industry executives. But, Wonder, now 55, couldn’t be rushed. “For me, when it flows, it really flows,” Wonder told Jet. “There was pressure from people who were saying, ‘When is it coming’? When is it coming?’ I turned that question into, 'When it does come, I’ll do the best I can do. I am not going to buckle to pressure.”

He pointed out he was never one to accept outside pressure to write or produce. “I’ve been writing some of these songs for 10 years and beyond. Please don’t hurt my baby is a song that I started writing when I was 18.” That song, which deals with infidelity that threatens to ruin a marriage, “was about the whole deal of marriage and infidelity. It was kind of tongue-in-cheek. It’s serious. I deal with it in a light way.” Please don’t hurt my baby is one of 15 new songs on the CD. The title song is a collaboration with fellow Motown artist India.Arie. “I gave her the concept and the words, and India did a masterful job with the lyric presentation.”

The CD is about various manifestations of love. It also features Wonder collaborating with such musical superstars as Prince, En Vogue, Doug E. Fresh, Kim Burell, Sir Paul McCartney and Bonnie Raitt, Two of the songs, How Will I Know and Positivity, feature Wonder’s daughter Aisha Morris. “It was really nice having Aisha on the album,” he said with a broad grin. “She was really excited about it. She really is a daddy’s girl. Always has been.”

One of the earliest and high profile releases was Shelter in the Rain, a song whose proceeds go to victims of Hurricane Katrina. That song, which features gospel legend Kirk Frankiln, was written during one of Wonder’s most despondent periods. “I was dealing with some things in my own life when I was writing it,” he said. “I was dealing with Syreeta Wright (his first wife, with whom he had hoped to sing the song) and my brother (Larry Hardaway) who was terminally ill. After Larry, I found out that Syreeta was terminally ill. It was dis-belief. How could this happen? Both of them died in the last couple of years. I wanted to find a way to help us as a people. And the net proceeds go to Katrina victims. When I heard about the hurricane, I was really hurt and I was hoping to do what I could.”

Doing Social good is one of Wonder’s trademarks. He was featured in the 1980s on the landmark USA for Africa’s We Are the World and That’s What Friends Are For, which addressed and raised money for AIDS.

Even though he hasn’t churned out a CD in a decade, Wonder has performed and continued charitable work. Earlier this year, he sang at the funeral of famed attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. “I loved Johnnie tremendously. He was a brilliant person. We need a Johnnie Cochran right about now. But, as much as we need him, God needs him more.”

The title of the CD was chosen, he said, because the world needs love more than ever before. “We’ve had a time for war, a time for strife, a time set aside for everything under the sun,” he pointed out. “We need a time to love now.” He said he is especially frightened about the way war proliferates and the availability of guns for younger and younger children. “What’s different now is our ability to kill more expeditiously and the guns in the hands of the young.”

Beyond taking his time putting the project together, Wonder said he held his ground when he was pressured to take Passionate Raindrops off the CD. “They (Motown Execs) thought the song was too repetitious, but I said ‘no’ and I went straight ahead. I made the decision to keep it.”

He hopes his passion for taking his time and giving fans his God –given gift are evident in A Time to Love.

“What happens with my music is that I share my feelings. And I like to know what I’m talking about before I jump into it. I think we don’t have to be limited to just one kind of music, one kind of topic. We should be able to deal with a lot of different things. I just feel A Time to Love is something that God gave me to express my feelings.”

He is hoping that this CD will continue his five-decades-long effort to create timeless music. “When I sit down to write, it’s all an expression of energy, and the particular song that comes if the form I choose to adapt to that energy. Each project takes on it’s own life, and the songs from A Time to Love are the most appropriate for the statement I wanted to make.”

The CD marked his first time working with gospel artist Kim Burell, a singer he has long admired. The two worked on the single If Your Love Cannot be Moved. “I love her voice. I wanted to meet Kim and went to one of her concerts,” he said. “She is incredible. We knew each other from a few years ago. I told her there was a song that came up and wanted to try on her and that song was If Your Love Cannot be Moved. We talked about my writing stuff for her. That song was made for her voice.”

That song enhanced his desire to one day soon do a gospel album as well as jazz. When asked why he hasn’t done a gospel album yet, he said, “I want to feel comfortable. I want to feel right. I want to have things I want to talk about and sing about.”

And he wants to do a national tour in the next few months with great visuals that will create a great emotional experience.

Down the road, he also wants to take on the Great White Way and put together a Broadway musical. There is no time table for those efforts because, as always, Wonder takes his time.

What he is anxious about is getting people to abandon the negativity of violence and embrace the concept of love.