Stevie Wonder has signed a deal for his own imprint with Republic Records, So What the Fuss Music, that is launching with two songs, he announced at a virtual press conference Tuesday.
The new songs were released concurrent with the press briefing. “Where Is Our Love Song” features Gary Clark Jr. as a guest and “Can’t Put It in The Hands of Fate” includes contributions from Rapsody, Cordae, Chika and Busta Rhymes as well as Wonder’s five children.
“I had a great conversation with Monte Lipman, the (Republic) president, and I spoke with India.Arie, who had signed with Republic,” Wonder said of the new affiliation.
Asked about the end of his nearly 60-year association with Motown, Wonder said: “Even though I have left Motown, I never leave Motown. That’s Detroit. So I’m sure that we can figure out how we can do some things at Motown. Maybe I’ll do my ‘Gospel Inspired by Lula’ with Motown. We’ll work it out,” he said, referring to a gospel project named after his late mother he had announced plans to record in 2013.
Wonder said that either an EP or full album would follow the release of the two new songs at some point. “I’m going to possibly do an EP with some various artists. I’ll put those two (just released) songs along with the other artists that are participating” that would be contributing with similar inspirational messages. “If the EP doesn’t come out, I’ll definitely put (the new songs) on my next (full-length) project, which is called ‘Through the Eyes of Wonder.’”
Wonder had been a Motown Recording artist for his entire career, since he signed with the label as an 11-year-old in 1961. While he is one of the most influential and successful artists of the second half of the 20th century — not to mention one of the most lauded, with 25 Grammy Awards out of 74 nominations, the majority dating from his magnificent run of albums during the 1970s — he has not released an album of new material since 2005’s “A Time to Love,” which itself was his first new album since 1995’s “Conversation Piece.”
He was extremely prolific during the 1960s and particularly the 1970s, when he released eight monumental solo studio albums — including the classics “Talking Book,” “Innervisions,” “Fulfillingness’ First Finale” and “Songs in the Key of Life” — as well as writing and producing two albums for Syreeta Wright, his wife at the time. His productivity tailed off following another classic, 1980’s “Hotter Than July,” although he has continued to tour and perform at many events, including Barack Obama’s inauguration; Wonder’s 1970 song “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” was a theme of Obama’s campaign.
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