*It was classic Stevie Wonder as the music icon kicked off his “Songs in the Key of Life” tour with a mix of classic tunes and political messages.
According to the Associated Press, Wonder advocated gun control, pleaded for an end to racism and promoted equality for those with disabilities during the sold-out show, which ran for almost three hours at Madison Square Garden last week.
“I challenge America, I challenge the world, to let hatred go, to let racism go,” Wonder told the audience. “That is the only way we will win as a nation and the world.”
Emotion gripped Wonder at one point in the show as tears streamed down his face while performing “Summer Soft.” The AP noted that a backup singer performed with Wonder, who was seemingly unable to find his voice.
Despite the emotional display, Wonder put on a great show with playing harmonica and a variety of other instruments with his band.
As the show continued, Wonder lightened the mood when he laughingly admitted to a flub mid-song (“I forgot my own words”) as well as dismissed recent reports that his partner is having triplets. For the record, the entertainer is only expecting one baby.
“I don’t know who started that bull,” Wonder said as the crowd laughed before he serenaded his infant daughter, Zaiah, who was brought onstage, with “Isn’t She Lovely.” The hit was written years ago for Wonder’s other daughter Aisha Morris , who was one of his background singers.
Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” tour stood as a dedication to music from the classic album which spawned hits such as “Sir Duke,” ”I Wish,” ”As” and “Isn’t She Lovely.”
True to form, Wonder continued to sprinkle social activism in his show. The singer reached out to the family of Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, a 6-year-old who was one of 26 killed by a gunman in the Sandy Hook tragedy of 2012, by inviting them onstage. Wonder acknowledged the girl’s father Jimmy Greene, wife Nelba Marquez-Greene and 10-year-old brother Isaiah Marquez-Greene in the audience while weighing in on gun control.
“The only thing that guns do is make the gun manufacturers rich and the mortuaries richer,” said Wonder, who also called for the creation of better services for disabled and challenged New York City residents.
“I want there to be accessibility for anybody who is deaf, who is a paraplegic,” he said.
Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” tour, which featured India.arie, will conclude in December in the Los Angeles area.