Photo Credit: Montez Miller
Legendary musician Stevie Wonder took Detroit to higher ground on Wednesday, Dec. 21 with the dedication of a street in his honor. Hundreds of devoted fans braved the winter temps to witness history as the corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Woodward Avenue was renamed Stevie Wonder Avenue. Bodies were cold, but hearts were warm with love as family and friends gathered with local and national leaders, including Mayor Mike Duggan and Congressman John Conyers.
“I love you all with my life,” said Stevie in response to the countless expressions of reverence.
Sponsored by the UAW, Ford Motor Company, Motown Records and Henry Ford Health System, the celebratory event featured art exhibitions and moving performances by young students. The display of emerging talent reflected Wonder’s supportive stance on the arts remaining a staple of our children’s education.
Despite his seminal status, Wonder remains humble and gracious. “I want to thank everyone who has made it possible to have a street named after myself. … it’s an amazing feeling, I never imagined in my lifetime that this would happen. … obviously, God knew; I’m very very thankful.”
True to his signature style, Wonder cracked jokes, sang a few harmonies and expressed frank views on America’s social and political climates. “A leader must lead in a way that will inspire other people to follow, he stated. “We can either be led to a place of heavenly bliss or to hell. There’s a responsibility that [comes with that] once you want to be a leader; then handle your business and do that.” Urging the importance of coming together despite our biases and differences, he noted that “it’s about the color of your heart and the color of your spirit.”
With appreciation and respect for his musical roots in Detroit, he shared praise for the future $50 million expansion of The Motown Museum. “I think it’s wonderful. … and the exciting thing is that it will be accessible so that everyone can enjoy the museum … it’s a great thing. As Detroit goes through its expansion and growth, it is only appropriate for that to happen for a tool that has been a part of Detroit’s legacy as has Motown. So, I’m happy about that.”
Known for his philanthropic efforts, Wonder announced that he plans to bring his House Full of Toys benefit concert to the city of Detroit in 2017.