Stevie Wonder's Newest Harpejji: A Tribute to His Sister

Posted on April 30 2019

Stevie Wonder's Newest Harpejji: A Tribute to His Sister

Did you notice recently that Stevie Wonder is playing a new and more colorful harpejji?


Stevie Wonder playing Clapton's "Tears In Heaven" at Nipsey Hussle's memorial service on April 11, 2019. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for Atlantic Records)

Stevie Wonder playing Clapton's "Tears In Heaven" at Nipsey Hussle's memorial service (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for Atlantic Records)

 

This beautiful instrument was made in honor of Stevie's recently deceased sister, Renee Hardaway (1961-2018). We were asked to build this harpejji for Stevie, and although humbled, we were also excited for the challenge!

Related image

Renee Hardaway (far right) next to Stevie Wonder

 

You may not know that Renee was a concept designer for the album cover artwork for "In Square Circle", Stevie's 1985 Motown Record. Our task was to use Renee's album cover design as the inspiration for this tribute harpejji.

 

Album cover artwork for "In Square Circle", 1985 Motown Record. 

 

It was decided to use the right side of the album cover as the backdrop for the harpejji.  Watch below as this all came to life!  A BIG THANKS to Josh Claar, our custom painter, who made this a reality and provided us many work in progress photos.

 

The Work in Progress

First the base coat of pink with a fade to blue...

 Next, clouds and a stencil for the horizon...

The mountains and foreground...

The metallic nose logo gets added... 

Now the fun part!  We add the actual vinyl record album.  In the next photo, you will see the original yellow record sticker, which was replaced with a silver tribute version.

Unique to this instrument is the actual vinyl record, used as the accent plate for the instrument, which had to be precisely cut to fit the instrument.

This wonderful idea and overall instrument concept came from Stevie Wonder's dear friend and Production Manager, Stephanie Andrews, who wanted to honor Renee to the fullest with this instrument.

Here is the instrument partially assembled and on the bench...

 Here is a close up of the embedded vinyl record...

Another touching element of this harpejji is Renee's signature, which appears on the record label along with her first name in braille. Also in braille are all of the C notes, as we have done for all of Stevie's harpejjis, to help with navigation.  Notice that there are no black and white note markers... the braille is all he needs!

 

The Finished Product

Stevie Wonder - In Square Circle (2014 Motown Records)

When Stevie received it, he called us to let us know personally how much it means to him and to thank us for doing a great job. Moments like that remind us of how special it is to do what we do! We are so proud of this very unique and special harpejji, especially because we know it is very close to his heart!

 

Blog Update: May 8th, 2019

Recently Stevie Wonder surprised a musician (Nelson Cade III) with an impromptu Harpejji and Guitar jam session at Skylight Gardens in CA.  Click on the links below to check it out!  

 

Click here for Superstition

Click here for 12 Bar Blues

 

 

4 comments

  • Honut Sinti: May 03, 2019

    Wonderful. 🌤️🌈

  • Wendy MacBain: May 02, 2019

    What a wonderful story and the artwork is beautiful! My sincerest condolences to Stevie and his family.

  • Paul Hogue: May 02, 2019

    What a great story, and the instrument is beautiful. I love how Stevie has worked with you guys over the years to improve an already amazing instrument and helped make it more accessible to others.

  • Peter Hogan: May 02, 2019

    My sincerest condolences to STEVIE and his extended family. There can be no better tribute to a loved one , than to re-create her spirit through music and on such a fitting instrument. LOVE and PEACE.

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