By Hayden Wright
Stevie Wonder has been making music for more than half a century and speaking his mind on social issues along the way. In 1980, the “Superstition” singer lobbied on behalf of making Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday, and his music was a fixture of the Obama White House—frequent walk-on music for events the former president and First Lady attended.
Recently, Wonder sat down with NPR to discuss his long career and remained optimistic about social progress despite his disdain for the Trump administration.
“My thing right now is I’m thinking, ‘How can we deal with this situation where people are prostituting the most high with their negativity, with their evil?’” he said. “That hurts my heart so deeply. And that’s everywhere. And so, to me, the one thing you’ve heard through and through every religion is: Hey, just love. Just love. That’s the most important thing: Just love. That’s what’s gonna see us through.”
Wonder also discussed Prince’s sudden death in 2016, expressing admiration for the Purple Rain star as both a musician and a friend. He recalled performing at the Official Prince Tribute Concert.
“It was hard to convey a message because I was in so much pain,” he said. “Not saying I wasn’t with the others. But we had previously, very recently talked and talked about his future and things that he wanted to do and how inspired he was with the things he wanted to do. It lets you know: Hey, tomorrow’s not promised to anyone. But you say, ‘God, why him?’”
And, the icon reflected on his early encounters with Barack Obama, before the future president had even been elected to the U.S. Senate.
“I knew that Barack Obama was going to become president, I knew that,” he said. “The funny thing about it is, I met him a few years prior to that when he was running for senator. And he came to my studio, to Wonderland Studios, to do a little performance in Chicago. I said, ‘I like your spirit and I feel that sincerity in your voice. I know that you’re running for senator, but I see even more than that. So I wanted to just pray for that time that you’ll become president of the United States because it’s what I feel you’re going to be.’”