The latest installment of PBS series “Blank on Blank” features a 2005 interview with Stevie Wonder discussing his autobiographical song “I Wish” from the 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life. The animation celebrates the record’s 40th anniversary on September 28th.
In the interview, Wonder said that when he was still “Little Stevie Wonder” at age 12, Motown group the Temptations gave him a nickname that stuck while on tour – and eventually made it into Wonder’s lyrics. “In America, African-Americans say that if your hair is real coarse, we call it nappy, nappy hair … And so I remember once I woke up on the bus and the Temptations were there and I was half-asleep and I said ‘my hair hurts me,’ and Paul Williams said, “Your hair is so nappy, it hurts your head.’ … So they used to call me ‘Nappy Wonder.'”
Wonder also discussed how his Pentecostal upbringing nearly put him at odds with music. Wonder reasoned, “If God didn’t want me to sing it, he wouldn’t have given me the talent to do it … I had a great relationship with God. For me, God was like a father. It was always someone I can touch, and he always had me in my arms, and I always felt that way.”