Live Music

The story behind the viral video of Stevie Wonder performing to that b.e.a.t.

Wonder hit the stage with DJ Raj Smoove in a video that’s actually 6 years old

We will put a bounce beat on anything. From Anita Baker to Adele, it doesn’t matter. It will get that beat put on it, and it will make you shake.

But what isn’t as common is seeing a national artist come to the city and embrace the beat, especially one as legendary as Stevie Wonder. Six years ago, that’s what happened, and the newly resurfaced video has gained legs on Twitter, going viral with one post of it gaining more than 5,000 retweets and 15,000 likes on Twitter.

The video was taken by Kevin Griffin-Clark during the 2012 Urban League Annual Conference Gala after-party. Wonder was the performer during the gala, and Raj Smoove was the entertainment for the after-party.

“That year I was the official photographer so I had to capture all the events.”

Griffin-Clark says about an hour into the after-party, the music legend walked in.

“He has a section right next to the stage by Raj Smoove, and he’s kind of chilling,” Griffin-Clark recalled. “You can tell he’s vibing, and everyone is kind of looking at him. Apparently, he was liking the music so much he wanted to get on the mic, and who is anyone to tell Stevie Wonder, no, he can’t get on the mic?”

Raj Smoove talked to Wonder for a few minutes, and then the moment you see on video happened. The entire clip shows Wonder singing a medley of hits, including “Superstitious,” “Do I Do, and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” in a call and response back and forth with the crowd.

“Ironically, Stevie Wonder’s bodyguards wouldn’t let me film with my regular camera,” Griffin-Clark said. “So, I had to pull out my cellphone and do it.”

Griffin-Clark says he put it up on YouTube the following day, and has posted it a couple of times after that on social media, but it hadn’t taken off like it did in the last few days.

“It says a lot about the culture of New Orleans,” Griffin-Clark said. “We set trends every day as New Orleanians.”

Ever since Drake’s summer of bounce, it seems everyone wants to feel that beat.

“It’s new to the world but we bounce almost anything,” Griffin-Clark said. “We bounce gospel music. The new trend right now is ‘Baby Shark’. There’s a bounce version of that. With the right DJ and the right producer doing it, it’ll sound amazing. I think with Raj being who he is and bounce music being such a great medium, it says our culture, we’re great. Our culture is great.”