In show business, nothing is what it seems. Did you really think that Stevie Wonder is the real name of the superstar who produced classics like “Higher Ground” and “I Just Called To Say I Love You”? How about Lorde? That’s what I thought. Let’s get started, shall we.
Stevie Wonder – Stevland Hardaway, Stevland Judkins or Stevland Morris
When we talk about one of the biggest names in soul, Stevie Wonder is somewhere at the top. This artist has been in show business since the age of twelve. Berry Gordy Jr.’s record company Motown marketed the young Stevie as the new Ray Charles.
This guy has twenty-five Grammy Awards. But the name that’s engraved on those is not the same as on his birth certificate. Fun fact is that before Stevie renamed himself, he used three different surnames. Hardaway is his mother’s name, Judkins is his father’s name and Morris is on his birth certificate. Confusing, right?
To make it even more confusing, producer Clarence Paul nicknamed him Little Stevie Wonder when he joined Motown. As soon as the artist reaches adulthood he removes the “Little” and form then on is known as Stevie Wonder, for the rest of his life. Under that name he writes the tracks “Higher Ground” and “I Just Called To Say I Love You.”
Katy Perry – Katy Hudson
Did you recover a little from the mind games around Stevie Wonder? Good. Not everyone is born with that many names, and certainly not everyone has such an epic career from the age of twelve. But Katy Perry does come close.
As a good Christian young Katy joins the gospel choir at the age of nine. In Santa Barbara California she records her first album under her real name Katy Hudson. The album is full of Christian songs, but it is not a success. She changes her name to Perry to avoid mix-ups with the actress Kate Hudson.
Perry is a guitarist and in 2008 she makes her breakthrough with the song “I Kissed A Girl.” From that moment on the young artist is on her way to the moon. Her tracks are tight, melodic and mostly self-written.
John Legend – John Roger Stevens
As it turns out, the sooner you start developing yourself musically, the sooner you decide to change your name into something epic. Like John Legend. At the age of four, the young John develops a fascination for piano playing.
That fascination turns into a passion and before you know it, the artist is in the studio with Kanye West. Yes, that’s how fast it can go. In that case you can’t blame man for shortening his surname, so it’s clear what his status is.
What sounds better to you? John Roger Stevens, or just John Legend. Yes, the guy who wrote the song “You Don’t Know My Name” by Alicia Keys. And indeed the John Legend of “All Of Me” – the best-selling single of 2014. His new name has a legendary ring to it.
Lorde – Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor
We already mentioned the young star Lorde. At the age of twelve, the New Zealand-based artist is offered a record deal by Universal after she participates in a local talent hunt. Four years later, at the age of sixteen, she scored the number one hit “Royals.” The rest is history.
The story behind the name of this star is more interesting than you might think. At first it sounds very Scandinavian – perhaps because of the memory of Lordie. On the other hand there’s also something very Christian to it. But, both guesses are wrong. Ella Yelich-O’Connor is a real child of her time. She is fascinated by old concepts like royalty and aristocracy.
She wants to translate this fascination into the present. In an interview the young star says: “I think Lord is a very nice name, but it’s a bit too masculine. That’s why I added an ‘e.’ That’s a bit more feminine.” Whatever you’re thoughts are on this matter, just try to play along with the chords of “Royals” by Lorde. There are only three of them. Enjoy and happy jamming!