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Steve Wonder Hosts 2021 House Full of Toys Concert – Billboard

Dressed in a stylish black suit, white shirt and chic black beret, Stevie wondered strutted on the first stage in a series of standing ovations during the House Full of Toys benefit concert Saturday night (December 18) in Los Angeles. In addition to marking its 23rd anniversary, the holiday event also celebrates its return from a three-year hiatus thanks to the success of Wonder. kidney transplant in 2019, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Standing with music director Rickey Minor, 71-year-old Wonder stood in front of a packed Microsoft Theater and said, “Thank you all for being here. A lot has happened in the world, my world and your own world. But the good thing is that we are all here to give to the less fortunate.” Concertgoers were asked to bring an unwrapped toy or “unwrapped gift of joy,” which was placed in bins outside the theater on behalf of the We Are You Foundation’s nonprofit organization. Wonder.

Wonder then briefly reminisces about his mother, who cries over his blindness and his feeling as a young boy that “maybe God has something else for me.” Also recalling starting his career at Motown, he told an audience member that [founder] Berry Gordy later told him that “we had to work on that voice – but the harmonica was so good.”

And with that, the icon spent the next two and a half hours delving deeper into his catalog of hits. As one audience member said as he walked out of the theater, “This is definitely not a disappointment… it’s amazing.”

Among the highlights of the evening were the following memorable ones:

Like a father, like a daughter: To the audience’s surprise and delight, Wonder brought her two youngest children on stage – daughters Zaiah and Nia Morris (“She’s 7 going on 27”, opening with artist Nia) – singing “” What Christmas Means to Me”. Wearing identical black and white ao dai, the two naturally did not miss a beat or a note when holding the mic in their hand to sing with their full voice. When the show ended at 11:30 p.m., the pair returned to join four of Wonder’s foundation vocalists to dance to the concert’s final song “Superstition.”

In memory of Jacqueline Avant: The most emotional moment of the evening came shortly after. After flipping through audience singles like “Master Blaster (Jammin’),” “Higher Ground” and “Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing,” Wonder began playing the “My Cherie Amour” trailer. on the piano. “I’ll play, you’ll sing – and you know the words of my songs better, or we’ll break up,” the singer-songwriter teased. Halfway through the song, he stops to recount how he wrote the song at the age of 15 while attending the Michigan School for the Blind. “I think of so many people who have enjoyed this song, including two very special people, who were young and in love, Clarence Avant and the love of his life, who was killed,” stammered Wonder. said as tears ran down her face. “I am heartbroken to hear that has happened to Jacqueline. As I think about their 54 years of marriage, I dedicate this song to Jacqueline and anyone who has lost their lives to violence. Guns and other guns are not the solution – let go of the cow — ing. ”

‘Anything’ for Stevie: “She can sing,” Wonder said while introducing Ledisi as the first guest performer of the evening. She warmed up the audience with a slow, fun performance of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” She then went on to star in “Anything for You,” which earned the singer-songwriter her first Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance earlier this year after 14 nominations. Proving the right Grammy and Wonder voters, Ledisi mesmerized the audience with her powerful four-octave vocals as she brilliantly delivered her powerful vocals with highs and lows. and high, persistent notes.

Near the end of the show, another performer took to the stage. Conducted by Wonder, who accompanied him on the piano, Johnny Gill captivated the audience with an exhilarating performance of one of his signature ballads, “My, My, My” that he dedicated it to “all the ladies in the house”. Gill then encouraged the crowd to salute Wonder, noting, “A higher power brought Steve Wonder here to be a messenger and leader. We should celebrate him. So get on your feet and give him the respect he deserves.” Acknowledging the audience’s latest event in a string of standing ovations throughout the evening, Wonder said, “I live to love you…all my life.”

New take on a classic favorite: You haven’t heard “Ave Maria” until you have enjoyed the Wonder-ized version. Noting that he had promised to sing the song “even though my throat was a little broken”, the singer gave a brave performance punctuated by his unique soulful harmonica – then signed autographs by a cheering audience.

https://www.billboard.com/music/rb-hip-hop/stevie-wonder-house-full-of-toys-2021-concert-highlights-1235012612/ Steve Wonder Hosts 2021 House Full of Toys Concert – Billboard

Dais Johnston

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