Stevie Wonder has kept a relatively low profile over the last decade, but that quiet period — which follows a health scare — seems to be ending. On Tuesday, the 70-year-old legend announced the release of two new songs, his first in 15 years. In equally startling news, Wonder said he would be releasing the tracks on his own label under Republic Records. The releases mark a break from Motown, his home since 1962.
Speaking by Zoom from his Southern California home, Wonder said he began writing one of the songs, the fluid “Where Is Our Love Song,” when he was 18 in 1968. He recently unearthed it and completed it with new lyrics, with the newly cut track featuring Gary Clark Jr. on guitar. Proceeds from the song’s sales will benefit Feeding America, which, Wonder says, has requested $1 billion in donations to help families in need around the country.
The second track, “Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate,” had also been gestating for a few years, he said, but was only completed with new lyrics in recent months. “When I first wrote it, it was about a relationship,” he said, at first playfully, before turning more somber. “And then I was thinking about where we are in the world and I was thinking … this craziness is unacceptable. We’re not going for it anymore. Change is right now. We can’t put it in hands of fate….. We can’t put voting in the hands of fate.” The track features Busta Rhymes and Rapsody alongside backing vocals from five of his children.
Both songs will be released on So What the Fuss Records, Wonder’s label, which will be distributed by the Universal-owned Republic Records. (The company is named after a song on 2005’s A Time to Love, his most recent album.) The two tracks may be included on an in-progress EP, which will also feature special unnamed guests.
If that plan doesn’t proceed, Wonder says he may include them on his long-in-gestation album, Through the Eyes of Wonder. He also didn’t rule out returning to Motown for another album in progress: a gospel project called Gospel Inspired by Lula named after this mother.
During his hour-long press conference, Wonder never mentioned Donald Trump, but his comments about the state of the nation were tinged with shock and a palpable sense of outrage. “A group of people planned to kidnap and possibly murder the governor of a state,” he said, referring to the recent plot against Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. “How did we get here? So-called Christians, how do you do that?… It’s emotional for me.”
“I want the world to get better,” he added. “I want us to get beyond this place. I want us all to go to the funeral of hate. That’s what I want.”
Wonder also expressed his support of the press (“the media is so very important — anyone who says the opposite is lying to themselves”) and addressed rumors that he had been ill. He confirmed that he was “blessed with a new kidney” last December and is recovering with the help of a medical team. “I feel great,” he said. “My voice feels good. I told my daughter I’m gonna be five years younger than her. I feel like I’m about 40 right now.” He also said life in Wonderland, his compound, is “safe … We wear the masks. We do the washing of hands.”
Wonder also flashed moments of his trademark humor. “I am alive and well,” he added. “I am looking forward to having a car that drives so I can drive myself.” He then broke into a bit of “Superstition,” using a keyboard by his side. After an hour, he said, “Let’s do what we go to do, right here. Are we good?”