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A Time To Love - Press Release


Press Conference - London's Savoy Hotel

Mike Collett-White
Reuters (Mon Nov 7, 2005)

LONDON (Reuters) - Stevie Wonder has taken plenty of time over his latest album, 10 years to be exact, but the rock legend said he was determined not to be rushed.

The 55-year-old singer spoke of the sorrow behind his new record "A Time to Love", raged about terrorism and war, joked about his blindness and confirmed that he was no longer seeking to restore his sight through new techniques.

"The most important thing is, when I do give the music, I'm satisfied with it, that it speaks for what I want to do," Wonder told reporters in London, when asked why he had taken so long to return to the studio.

He added that he was not too bothered by criticism of the 15-track record. While praising Wonder's still-soaring voice, some reviews were less flattering about the music, with one calling the album "another anonymous addendum".

"I'm happy with the reaction that we've received," he said, interspersing his answers at a news conference with performances of tracks old and new.

"I think there's a stereotype, with how people perceive a black artist being supposed to do this ... To me music is music and you do whatever feels good and right.

"For those that have some constructive criticism, I can relate to that, I'm cool with it, but for those who have just nonsense, I just say I'm not even thinking about it."

The penultimate song on the album is "Positivity" featuring his daughter Aisha Morris, and while he sees himself as optimistic, personal tragedy inspired some of his new music.

"Shelter in the Rain", for example, was written at time when both his brother and ex-wife Syreeta Wright were diagnosed as being terminally ill.

"That time then was a very, very low time in my life, just knowing that my brother and Syreeta were going to be here not too much longer. Obviously I had faith, but I also knew that nothing lasts forever," he said. He later decided to donate the net proceeds from the track to victims of Hurricane Katrina in the United States.

The creator of classics including "Superstition", "My Cherie Amour" and "Happy Birthday" was critical of some artists and labels who avoided taking on serious issues.

"I think that to a great degree, reggae companies have become very corporate and so maybe some (artists) don't have that freedom to say whatever they want to say," Wonder said.

The nine-minute title track on "A Time to Love" is overtly political, and includes the lines: "Not enough money for the young, the old and the poor; But for war there is always more."

On a lighter note, when asked if he was still considering surgery to restore his sight, he joked he would remove his trademark dark glasses and drive away himself, before adding: "There's nothing that is happening with my eyes as far as me being able to see."

Wonder, who has won more than 20 Grammy awards and sold around 70 million records over a career that has spanned four decades, said he was not done yet.

He plans to make gospel and jazz records, and wants to play smaller venues before embarking on a "major tour".