Stevie Wonder had a powerful message to his fans at the British Summer Time Festival held in Hyde Park in London. The 66-year-old singer closed the festival by celebrating the 40th anniversary of his Grammy award-winning album, Songs in the Key of Life.
Before performing his set, Stevie Wonder addressed the crowd of 65,000 and urged them to choose love during difficult times, as Billboard reports.
“I encourage you to choose love over hate. It’s just that simple. Choose love over hate, right over wrong, kind over meanness. Hope over no hope at all.”
Some songs included in Songs in the Key of Life focuses on topics such as police corruption and racism. Stevie said that he is glad his album still has significance after four decades, but he said that it breaks his heart to know that the conditions he wrote about 40 years ago are still happening to this day.
— NME (@NME) July 11, 2016
Stevie Wonder’s message to his fans comes after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two men who were killed by police. After the incidents, five police officers were killed in what is being reported as payback for the killing of Sterling and Castile, according to the New York Times.
Stevie Wonder also talked about the Black Lives Matter movement during his opening speech.
“All life does matter, but the reason that I say black lives matter is because we are the original people of this world. So in essence, everyone here has some black in you. You’ve got some soul in you so stop denying your culture.”
We just witness the 8th WONDER of the world and we are immensely emotional.
Thank you Stevie Wonder!
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— BST Hyde Park (@BSTHydePark) July 10, 2016
Among those in the crowd were celebrities including Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Naomi Campbell, and Bradley Cooper, as The Daily Mail reports.
Stevie Wonder also said that everyone is made in the image of God. “When you hate someone, you’re hating that image,” he said. Stevie also challenged the audience to do something about the issues. “Tell all the leaders of the world to cut the bull… and fix it,” he said.
“If I’m blind and I can see it, you can see it too.”
Stevie Wonder went on to say that he is “blessed to be blind” and considers his blindness a gift.
“It was a gift so that I could show those of you who have everything you have the blessing you have to use them all. That everyday is to please God and to use the fift of song that he has given me to encourage you to move forward.”
Stevie Wonder went onstage with a maroon-colored tunic and a cap with colorful patterns covering his dreadlocks. Wonder played onstage for two hours, singing every song from Songs in the Key of Life. He was also joined by Grammy-nominated singer Wayna Wondwossen for a few duets.
Other performers at the British Summer Time Festival were Corrine Bailey, Pharrell Williams, Mumford & Sons, Carole King, and Florence + The Machine.
Songs in the Key of Life was released on September 28, 1976. In an interview in 1995, Stevie Wonder said that the album is the one he’s most happy about. The album includes such songs as “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” “Village Ghetto Land,” “Knocks Me Off My Feet,” and “Isn’t She Lovely.” In 1977, Stevie Wonder was nominated for Seven Grammy awards and won four, including Album of the Year for Songs in the Key of Life.
[Photo by KGC-138/STAR MAX/IPx/AP Images]