Recently, legendary singer, songwriter, musician and music producer Stevie Wonder held the 20th Anniversary of his House Full of Toys Benefit Concert at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. The event, which aims to assist children, families, and persons with disabilities in need, brought thousands of concertgoers out in support of the cause with unwrapped toys and gifts in tow.
Themed “A Wonder Winter’s Night,” Stevie Wonder performed alongside industry greats such as Lionel Richie, John Legend, Queen Latifah, Mike Phillips and Jasmine Sullivan. Wonder also brought industry newcomers Major, Anderson Paak, Rachel Platten, Tori Kelly, and more to the stage, often placing each performer on the spot to showcase their unique musical abilities. The KJLH Choir also came out in numbers to bring holiday cheer.
Fans were beyond ecstatic to see both Wonder and Richie on one stage, with the crowd grooving to hits like “All Night Long”. At one point, Wonder became emotional during their rendition of Michael Jackson’s “We Are The World,” citing the country’s need to unite in spite of cultural and political differences. “I’m so passionate about us coming together, not being divided,” Wonder said in tears. “We cannot change the way we’ve been, we cannot change our destiny, we must be a united people of these Unities States of America, because anything less than that is bullshit,” he stated as the theatre roared in agreement.
Saxophonist Mike Phillips received a standing ovation after performing to the tune of The Temptations holiday hit “Christmas Song.” Philips, who’s toured with Stevie Wonder and late music icons Prince and Michael Jackson, shared just how meaningful the night was to him. “I grew up in a family that my mom struggled to even rent a saxophone for 35 dollars to get into a band,” he noted. “At the end of the day, God saw it fit to give me a gift. It’s not to prove anything, but it’s to share the gift that God has given you,” he continued.
Wonder kept the crowd enticed with lighthearted humor throughout the night, often joking about his inability to see. “I was seeing double, it was getting kind of crazy,” Wonder said about preparing for the show. “Everybody becomes your cousin when it’s Showtime, ‘Did Stevie leave my ticket? “Look at the brail machine, see if he wrote it down somewhere,” he said in laughter.
Later in the evening, Wonder met up with fellow humanitarian and legend in the making, John Legend to perform “Ordinary People,” as Wonder played the piano and freestyled from his harmonica. Legend also performed his latest single, “Love Me Now,” and the holiday jam, “This Christmas,” at Wonder’s impromptu request.
Stevie Wonder personally introduced all of the nights’ performers, which also included Nina Whittaker, who filled the audience with holiday cheer. Jasmine Sullivan seduced the crowd with her sultry voice, eloquently singing Stevie Wonder’s “These Three Words,” alongside Legend and Wonder before getting the crowd hype to “Bust Your Windows.”
Recording artist MAJOR also hit major high notes in his “Why I Love You” performance, enticing the crowd in a sparkly red blazer and tux. “Just never stop dreaming,” MAJOR said in awe of sharing the stage with Wonder.
Actress, singer and rapper Queen Latifah tapped on emotional heartstrings after her performance of “Georgia Rose” featuring Wonder, then picked the crowd back up with her all time hit “U.N.I.T.Y”. “This is my hero, not just in music, but in life, in passion, in love,” Latifah said of Wonder.
Stevie Wonder recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his worldwide humanitarian efforts, and is also regarded as a U.N. Messenger of Peace with an emphasis on persons with disabilities. The living legend has won many accolades in his longstanding career, including 25 Grammy Awards, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an Academy Award and Golden Global Award.