CBS is airing tonight what is promising to be one of the most exciting specials of the year as some of the biggest names in all genres of music pay tribute in words and song to one of the most successful and prolific singer-songwriters in the history of popular music: Stevie Wonder.
The special, “Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life – An All-Star Grammy Salute” features artists that came together much in the same fashion as the recording of “We Are the World” when the majority of the singers met secretly in a studio to record the song after the 1985 American Music Awards. In this Stevie Wonder special, most of the performers were a part of the 2015 Grammy Awards telecast two days prior, but there were a few surprises.
All of the performers and the songs featured were kept secret from Wonder as the show’s Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich wanted to surprise the honored guest.
However, one performer was leaked to Wonder in advance…Tony Bennett. Wonder said he was honored to have him as part of the tribute as his admiration goes back to Bennett’s great performances and recordings of the 60’s and to his support and participation in the Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1965.
While Stevie Wonder is best known as the singer of the hit “For Once In My Life,” Tony Bennett actually recorded the song first. Stevie made the song more uptempo and actually released the song first. Both versions, with different styles and arrangements, were hits. Decades later, they would record the song together as part of Tony Bennett’s “Duets” album, and ironically would win a Grammy for that performance. Might that be one of the songs featured tonight? I’d put my money on it!
While word is starting to come out as to who will be performing and what songs will be featured, The Arena Guy will not be a spoiler right now. It is more fun to have that surprise element when watching these shows. But it sounds like it is going to be an amazing tribute to the 31-time Grammy winner Stevie Wonder, who was signed to Motown at age 11, as they celebrate his more than 50 years in music!
These tribute shows tend to honor careers that are almost over, but that is not the case here. True, they will honor a man who has been performing for more than a half-century, but his genius continues. Stevie is writing and recording new music for an album to be released soon, and has extended his “Songs in the Key of Life” tour due to great fan demand. One of those concert dates includes a stop at the Schottenstein Center on April 1.
Catch this true music legend on your TV screen tonight on CBS…and in-person April 1 in Columbus. And that’s no April Fool’s joke!