Stevie Wonder was child prodigy who signed with a record label when he was just 11 years old and topped the Billboard chart with his single “Fingertips” at the age of 13. Like Wonder, Joshua Pyram has been performing and playing music since he was young and growing up in Brooklyn. With A Place in the Sun – A Tribute to Stevie Wonder, Pyram has the chance to perform some of Wonder’s greatest hits, including “My Cherie Amour,” “Uptight,” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”
We sat down with Pyram to talk about how Wonder’s music influenced him, his favorite song in A Place in the Sun, and the challenges of bringing the songbook of a legend to life.
What does Stevie Wonder’s music mean to you?
Stevie’s music is so timeless to me. You could almost call him a magician. He has the ability to cut to the heart of a story, which were mostly based on his own life experiences. He is a master at really painting those pictures and the ways in which they deeply affected him. To able to put all of that to paper, and then to accompany those small moments with instrumentation that makes the lyrics larger than life? That is true spell casting—I honestly believe that man is magical!
What does Stevie Wonder’s story and musical impact mean to you?
Stevie Wonder’s story is a unique one that was born from a common place of hardship and struggle and the world relates to that every day. Being a performer at a young age is intimidating and frightening enough as it is, but to be able to do that and captivate a room is inspirational. Regardless of his age, his impairments, or social standing in life, Wonder consistently showed us that if music truly moves you, then there are no boundaries between you and the magic that you can create. For me, I strive to inspire my family and friends to positively build their lives in the same ways that he inspired me to be a better storyteller.
What excites you most about A Place in the Sun – A Tribute to Stevie Wonder?
The chance to sing Stevie’s music! I want to invite the audience to truly move their bodies and spirits to the rhythm and sound of music that transcends time itself. I love being able to connect with my fellow musicians as we create enduring moments like Stevie used to.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge of this show?
As a vocalist, Stevie has always been one of the top dogs in American Music History. His vocal control and musical intonation are second to none. I want to dedicate myself to embodying the spirit of joy, pain, and sadness as a vocalist in the same ways he does.
What song in the show do you connect most with and why?
Well I was once a part-time lover, like many of us tend to be, but I think I have to really choose “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” I connect with that much more because of the selfless love attached to it. I am a crazy hopeless romantic, and it reminds me to always keep my heart and mind open. We need more music that does that. We sometimes hold on to negative feelings in our relationships, intimate or otherwise, so it always good to remind myself how to love and give out love unconditionally.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
As someone that’s been performing since I was young, I really cannot express the joy I have to be able to refine my craft as a vocalist through the medium of Stevie’s music. The opportunity to work with other outstanding musicians and vocalists is priceless, because I wish to one day be as phenomenal as he was.
It’s also important to me that the world knows the true power and impact of amazing music. I was raised in the project housing system of Brooklyn, NY, so I always want to represent myself and the community I’m from in the highest light. Musical Theatre was my outlet as a kid, and I hope that it can be the same outlet for the next generation to come.
A Place in the Sun – A Tribute to Stevie Wonder is now playing in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret. For tickets and more information, click here.