News: Myles meets Stevie!
I remember being introduced to Stevie Wonder's music when I was a child. He played "Superstition" and jammed with Grover on Sesame Street...I was hooked.
Then a few years later I started to play the trumpet. One of the first things I attempted to play was the opening horn line from "Sir Duke." Though the sound I produced was similar to the cacophony you might hear when putting a cat into a dryer, it still made me feel great.
There was always something about Stevie that intrigued me. It wasn't just his singing, it was the magic of all the brilliant songs he composed.
When I discovered Songs in the Key of Life many years later, it would serve as the template for my approach to singing and my early stages of writing. I would sit in my beat up car and play that cassette over and over as I drove through the streets of Spokane trying to sing along. His ability to use his voice like an instrument would leave me awestruck yet inspired.
I was reminded of his gift last week as I watched him perform "They Won't Go When I Go" during the televised Michael Jackson memorial. Not only was it a stunning reminder of the power that he wields behind a piano and microphone, but it served as a reminder of the musical debt that I owe him as an artist.
As fate would have it, I got to express those very words to him last Friday in Los Angeles.
Actually, I wish I could have expressed them that way. I was so nervous that I sounded more like Chris Farley when he interviewed Paul McCartney on Saturday Night Live.....
"Umm...remember that time you sang Higher Ground? Umm..that was awesome"
"Stevie thanks for being one of my...um...greatest..I mean....influences...ummm..I mean...like...uhh...#$@%@^ !"
He was still very gracious even though I was tripping all over myself.
To be afforded the luxury of getting to show my gratitude to him is something I will always be grateful for.