Legendary musical genius Stevie Wonder has unequivocally shaped the arts, and an institution nestled in his home state will celebrate his brilliance. The Detroit-based Wayne State University will award the global icon an honorary degree.
Wonder, who hails from Saginaw, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters from the school. His distinctive path in the music industry started before he was a teenager. When Wonder was 12, he made his recording debut. The musician—who has been visually impaired since birth—solidified himself as a poignant composer, penning powerful lyrics and creating colorful melodies using instruments like the piano, organ, drums and harmonica.
Wonder’s body of work transcends decades. His award-winning albums, including Where I’m Coming From, Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, and Songs in the Key of Life, are timeless pieces of art that forever transformed the landscape of music. He has used his artistry and platform as avenues for activism throughout his career, spreading awareness about social injustices and advocating for the differently-abled community.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and was the recipient of the Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2005. Nine years after the Grammy honor, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama.
Wonder will be bestowed with the honorary degree during the university’s commencement ceremony on May 7 alongside spiritual leader and activist Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, developer Gurmale Singh Grewal, actor and comedian Timothy Meadows and television producer and writer Bill Prady.
This isn’t the first time Wonder has been honored by an educational institution. In 2014, he received an honorary degree from Northwestern University. In 2011, he was awarded one by Tulane University. He was also granted an honorary degree from Howard University in 1978.