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A Time To Love - Press Release

Daily Yomiuri

Stevie Wonder: It's 'time to love'
Paul Jackson

Despite a career stretching back more than 40 years, only this week is Stevie Wonder making his first-ever promotional visit to Japan solely in support of an album. This is a sign of how seriously he is taking A Time to Love, his first studio recording to be released in 10 years.

As suggested by the title of the album, which came out in Japan on Oct. 19, the theme of this latest work is the need for more love in the world. The title song points out that while there seems to be plenty of time for conquering nations, drilling for oil, plus hatred, violence and terrorism, there doesn't seem to be much attention paid to love.

"People say I'm always so optimistic and happy, but I don't always have joy--I go through pain like everyone else," Wonder said at a press conference held Wednesday at a Tokyo hotel. While he wowed the assembled media, interspersing his comments with riffs and fills on his keyboard, a stream of funny voices and jokes with his daughter Aisha Morris, Wonder also had time to deliver a serious message.

"In one sense we are all suffering, any of us that have hearts and care, we are suffering because there are wars in the world, there is hatred in the world and some people would say there is more than ever before," Wonder said.

"As long as we are on this Earth we have to do the best we can. There has to be a solution. If politicians really looked into their true hearts they'd see other solutions apart from war and destruction.

"The God that I know, the Allah that I know would not want to kill or poison innocent people or children or cause destruction, because I believe that the life we have been given is for perpetuation and we must continue to preserve it and make it better for the less fortunate," he said, adding that scientists should put their efforts into curing diseases and helping the disabled rather than putting their knowledge and our resources to destructive use. But if the heavyweight content of this musical heavyweight's comments implies A Time For Love is a dark, brooding, preaching sermon, that couldn't be further from the truth.

Featuring a slew of collaborations with artists such as Doug E. Fresh, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, India.Arie, Paul McCartney and Aisha, Wonder's 28th original album is full of the uplifting, catchy melodies that have characterized his career.

"I'm a music lover and I write for different reasons, for expressing myself and hopefully for expressing the feelings of other people," Wonder said, explaining that his interests and influences cover the whole gamut of music from hip-hop to classical. "But I always have to like them [my songs] a music lover outside of Stevie Wonder and all that, if I feel I don't like [a song], then it won't come out."

Among the tunes on the album he spoke about were "Positivity" and "How Will I Know," which feature Aisha, and "Shelter in the Rain," the proceeds of which Wonder is donating to victims of Hurricane Katrina. In "Positivity" he refers to a refrain of his friend Minnie Ripperton, who said that she always wanted to see the glass of life as half full, not half empty, and while the thrust of the message seems obvious, again he says this is what we need more of. "We have to have hope," Wonder said. "As without hope we become hopeless."

On a lighter note, Wonder says he wrote "How I Will Know" one Tuesday morning in New York about 10 years ago after "a wonderful night of making incredible love." He said he wondered how he could possibly know if the other party really felt the same way about him as he did about her. After singing the tune around the house, eventually Aisha started singing it, too, and a better version to boot, hence the recording, he said.

"I have no words to say how happy I was to be on the album," said Aisha, who first gurgled on record with Stevie on "Isn't She Lovely." "He's not just my father, he's my best friend." Wonder said he wrote "Shelter in the Rain" at a low point in his life when his brother was diagnosed with a terminal illness and his former wife Syreeta with breast cancer. "I planned for Syreeta and I to sing it together, but she decided that as she was having more bad days than good days she wanted me to sing it," Wonder said. "Two years ago Syreeta passed away. At that time I felt a lot of pain...even though we were not married, we were still family."

Feeling he had been blessed with the song by God, he decided to use it to help those affected by the hurricane. As for the album itself, there's already premature talk of a Grammy, and Wonder made quite clear what he felt about the prospect of bagging another.

"I'd honestly like to tell you that at this point in time, I haven't had enough Grammies!" he joked.