Stevie Wonder announced that he would be undergoing a kidney transplant in September. In June, reports of his health issues surfaced with news outlets stating that the singer had dialysis treatments.
“So what’s gonna happen is this: I’m going to have surgery. I’m going to have a kidney transplant in September of this year,” Wonder announces. The crowd keeps silent for a little while.
“I’m all good; I’m all good; I’m all good. I have a donor; it’s all good,” Wonder adds. By this time, the crowd cheers. “You ain’t got to hear no rumors about nothing; I told you what’s up. I’m good.”
Speculation about the singer’s health came to focus when Patty Jackson, a radio host of WDAS Radio in Philadelphia, talked about Wonder’s condition in her YouTube channel last June 25.
Close friends share that Wonder has been battling a serious health issue. “He’s got some health challenges, but he doesn’t want a big PR thing out of this,” said Joan Belgrave, a musician, and friend of Stevie Wonder.
Before his surgery scheduled for September, Wonder will perform in three more shows. The singer travels with a medical team for his shows abroad.
Aside from the music festival in England, Wonder has been continuing his Stevie Wonder Song Party: A Celebration of Life, Love & Music, a limited engagement concert series from 2018. Lionel Richie joined Wonder last Saturday.
After Hyde Park, Stevie Wonder will go to Dublin for the next concert in the series. The first concert of the Stevie Wonder Song Party was held in Las Vegas in August last year.
Songs in the Key of Life Tour and Other Musical Appearances
Wonder’s last full-fledged tour was back in 2014-2015 celebrating his 1976 album titled Songs in the Key of Life.
The concert series kicked off in a sold-out Madison Square Garden last November 2014. The tour took Wonder and his 21-piece band through different states in the US and Canada. In November 2015, the concert finished the tour where it started, playing the last set in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Wonder performed hit songs from the 1976 album like Knocks Me Off My Feet, I Wish, Isn’t She Lovely, and Superstition.
According to Rolling Stone, the 1976 album was the most ambitious R&B album during its time.
After the tour, Wonder performed in small musical engagements. In 2016, Wonder performed in a tribute for the artist Prince in BET Awards. The R&B singer sang a duet with Tori Kelly. They played Prince’s Take Me With U. Wonder also performed in The Official Prince Tribute held in Xcel Energy Center in Prince’s home state, Minnesota.
Wonder also collaborated with Ariane Grande that year to release Faith, the lead single for the soundtrack of the animated movie Sing.
In 2017, Wonder joined the performances in Global Citizen Festival in New York City. The then 67-year old singer went on his knees, taking a page out of NFL star Colin Kaepeernick’s taking a knee, as a sign of protest against hate.
“Tonight I’m taking a knee for America, but not just one knee, both knees. Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world and our globe. Amen,” Wonder said while his son help him with the task.
“I didn’t come here to preach. But I’m telling you, our spirits must be in the right place. All the time, not just now. Whenever you need to, [you must] interrupt hate, stand down bigotry, condemn sexism and find love for all our global brothers and sisters every day,” Wonder added.
Wonder also surprised Dave Matthews Band fans when he made an appearance during the band’s set in A Concert for Charlottesville. It was a fundraising event for the victims who were killed and injured in the Unite the Right rally.
Wonder’s friend and collaborator, Aretha Franklin, died of pancreatic cancer in August 2018. According to Variety, Wonder teared up as he reminisces his last conversation with Franklin. Wonder attended the late artist’s memorial along with Ariana Grande, Tyler Perry, and Faith Hill. Wonder performed “What the World Needs Now” during a fundraising telethon for Stand Up to Cancer. He dedicated his performance to his dear friend, Franklin.
Aside from his occasional appearances, Wonder continues to perform in his annual House Full of Toys benefit concert. The concert started 22 years ago.