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  • Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

  • The Soulful Journey of Stevie Wonder
  • By: Mark Ribowsky
  • Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
  • Length: 12 hrs and 45 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

By: Mark Ribowsky
Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
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Summary

The first definitive biography of music legend Stevie Wonder.

Stevie Wonder's achievements as a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer are extraordinary. During a career that has spanned almost fifty years, he has earned more than 30 Top 10 hits, 26 Grammy Awards, and a place in both the Rock and Roll and Songwriter Halls of Fame - and he's not finished yet. On the verge of turning 60, he is still composing, still touring, and still attracting dedicated fans around the world.

For the first time, Signed, Sealed, and Delivered takes an in-depth look at Stevie Wonder's life and his evolution from kid-soul pop star into a mature artist whose music helped lay the groundwork for the evolution of hip hop and rap.

  • Explores the life, achievements, and influence of one of America's biggest musical icons, set against the history of Motown and the last 50 years of popular music.
  • Based on extensive interviews with Motown producers, music executives, songwriters, and musicians, including founding Temptation Otis Williams, Mickey Stevenson, surviving Funk Brother Eddie Willis, synthesizer genius Malcolm Cecil, guitar legend Michael Sembello, and many others.
  • Traces Stevie's personal and musical development through the decades, from the early 1960s R&B of "Fingertips" to the social and political themes of "Living for the City" and other 1970s classics, through periods of musical and personal confusion, uncertainty, and, later, renewal.

Listen to Signed, Sealed, and Delivered to explore the life and work of one of pop music's most compelling masters of invention.

©2010 Mark Ribowsky (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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An excellent delivery

I am a huge fan of biographies and autobiographies - I have got through so many (so many extraordinary lives). I love them. The biography is a very difficult challenge - and it is probably more challenging when your subject is still alive and is actively revered by many millions of people, cast in a specific image. Stevie Wonder has an image that is close to sainthood - unimpeachable and almost holy for some. It takes courage to try to separate Stevie Wonder the image, from Stevie Wonder 'the man'. I'm grateful to the author (Mark Ribowsky) for his courage and the way that he has set about this task. I never felt that the account was ever too sweet or reverential to be trustworthy, it was never too bitter or severe to be a hatchet job.

In truth, most superstars of music are somewhere in between wonderful people and selfish demonic a-holes (some are both in one package). The extraordinary circumstances of such lives mean that they have usually done something that is incredibly kind or generous, and in a dark moment, something equally deplorable and selfish too. Ribowsky is not overawed by any of the people that are part of this narrative journey - he credits them with their successes, but he gets in behind their motives too. His treatment of Berry Gordy has been criticised in other reviews - I didn't think it was worthy of criticism. What did people imagine Berry Gordy to be if not a sharp street hustler that was resilient, at times selfish, but undoubtedly capable of staying the long journey to the top? He didn't get there by being super nice. I thought the exposition of how he screwed Stevie and how Stevie definitely got his own back in their topsy-turvy power struggle relationship was fascinating, compelling and (for want of any further research or corroboration) probably more than likely (certainly logical and believable).

Stevie Wonder himself is never disrespected - but he is subject to some fair and reasonable questions at times. The writer hints at things beneath the surface that Wonder himself has said that he wouldn't want to see the light of day - even after his own death. Listen - I love the music, but I do not expect Stevie Wonder to be a perfect human being. If he isn't a perfect human being I'm not going to leap on him for that. If he is portrayed as perfect I'm definitely going to call b*ll sh*t on the narrative. I'm sorry. He's flesh and blood. He's a real man. So the demons and the limitations are there.

This account gives you something that you can believe. It is based on research - you cannot write at this length without pouring over months and maybe even years of research - to get to know your subject. The fascinating thing about biography is that you're always going to get someone's take on someone else's life. This is a good one - it's a journey worth taking. As I listened I definitely felt like I was on that journey. It's not a particularly dark tale - it's a fascinating insight into one of music's most incredibly talented human exponents - and Ribowsky recognises that many times in a fair measure that doesn't become fawning adoration.

For reference I think my favourite biography has been the two volume account of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick - absolutely the standard which I would like all biographies to meet. I read many who get nowhere near such quality. I could happily recommend this though and I'll read (and listen to) more by Ribowsky in future quite happily.

NB - I've given 'story' 5 stars, and 'performance' 5 stars - overall is 4 stars because there is much more to a really great biography than 'story' or 'performance'. Nevertheless, in my estimation, 4 stars overall is a compelling recommendation.

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