How Marvin Gaye’s Mentorship Gave Stevie Wonder The Springboard For His Career

In the 1960s, Motown founder Berry Gordy (pictured) pushed for “radio-friendly” singles that appealed to as many people as possible. Perhaps this was because he wanted the Black artists on the record label to have the best chances of success. However, this meant that the songs could not be political. By the end of the 1960s, artists from all over the country were no longer turning a blind eye to the troubles felt by those at home in the United States and overseas, especially in Vietnam (per Far Out).

Motown artist Marvin Gaye led the charge in adding political sentiments to his music, despite Gordy’s disapproval. He released “What’s Going On” in 1971. Stevie Wonder got a front-row seat in the studio with Gaye while he recorded for the album, according to Andscape. Wonder’s music thereafter included very human emotions, political strife, and encompassed multiple aspects of African American life in the early 1970s. He even included a jab at President Richard Nixon on the song “You Haven’t Done Nothin.'”

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