This past Saturday night was a cold and wet autumn evening in the Washington, DC area that had the makings of staying in your warm and dry house written all over it. But there was no way that I could choose to do the latter with DJ Spinna bringing his Wonder-Full party back to the DMV. This typically once-a-year occurrence is like a holiday for music heads who come out in droves to pay homage to Stevie Wonder and the greatness of his music with DJ Spinna, who spins no less than a four-hour set of originals, remixes, edits and other productions that Stevie has had a hand in creating. DC was actually luckier than most cities this year in that this was our second Wonder-Full for 2013 after Spinna brought it to town for inauguration weekend in January. However, attendees to Saturday's Wonder-Full DC party were the luckiest of all thanks to a surprise appearance by a very special guest, Mr. Stevie Wonder himself.
When I arrived at Liv Nightclub, DC's own Jahsonic was deep into his set warming things up for DJ Spinna to take over the wheels of steel. A few people were dancing on the wide open dance floor and many were crowded around the bar grooving to the music. I posted up near the stage, and within a few minutes of my arrival Spinna emerged and the smooth transition from one DJ to the next began. I happened to notice that there was also a set of keyboards on stage next to the turntables but didn't immediately put two-and-two together. While Spinna finished setting up and spun his first Stevie Wonder track of the night to get the party started right, photographer and fellow blogger Victoria Ford came over to say hello and she whispered to me that there was going to be a surprise guest in the house. THEN it clicked to me what was about to happen. My mouth flew open, and I'm positive I let out a yelp of some sort when I said, "OH MY GOD IS STEVIE HERE?!" Victoria confirmed but swore me to secrecy. But the secret was soon out because two minutes later who do I see walking into Liv but the living legend that is Stevie Wonder flanked by his bodyguards and staff.
The ripple of recognition that Stevie Wonder was in the building spread through the crowd like a tidal wave and within seconds a combination of screams, applause and people clamoring to the stage could be heard. Everyone watched in awe as Stevie was led onto stage and seated behind Spinna. Hands shook and fingers trembled as we all sent texts, placed calls, snapped photos and recorded videos to document our good fortune. DJ Spinna welcomed Mr. Wonder to more thunderous applause, hooting and hollering, then he was given a mic and Stevie thanked everyone for being there and for our love. He then said to us, "I am committed to doing everything I can for the rest of my life to not only give you the best that God gives me musically, but to do anything that I can to help move this planet forward. I promise you that with all my heart."
After those heartfelt words, Stevie immediately lightened the mood saying, "OK, I'ma get me something to drank, yeah-uh!" That made everyone crack up like his name was Kevin Hart. But before he could partake in any adult libations, he next said, "Gimme a beat!" to DJ Spinna who happily complied and threw on a drumbeat. The audience was pumped up and a chant of "Go Stevie! Go Stevie!" got started. With the break beat as the foundation, Stevie started singing "I Wish" like we never heard it before.
After that impromptu performance, Stevie was led off stage to raucous screaming and clapping to finally go get that well-deserved drank. Needless to say, Wonder-Full DC was officially turned up at this point. The excitement of Stevie's presence in the building and the promise that he was coming back had everyone in a zone, especially DJ Spinna, who showed out on the turntables for the next hour or so. People were dancing extra hard and singing extra loud, finding it hard to contain themselves amidst this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
Stevie made good on his promise and later returned to the stage to bless us with the most epic freestyle/mash-up/sing-along that Washington, DC has likely ever experienced. This time Stevie was led to the keyboard set up in front of the turntables and seated. Spinna dropped another beat for Stevie while he played the keys and sang, "There's nothing greater than the love you've shown me/That's why I thank Him everyday, by what I do not what I say." Stevie made this song up on the spot and then became choir director guiding the women and men to sing different parts. During this freestyle he even blended in his hits "Knocks Me Off My Feet" and "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing," to create quite the glorious mash-up.
Stevie left us with some parting words, encouraging those in attendance to change the world to cacophonous applause. DJ Spinna played "Love's In Need Of Love Today," which was quite a fitting song for that moment while Stevie was led off stage one last time. Upon Wonder's exit, Spinna received an ovation of his own from the appreciative audience. He stopped the music and had to take a moment to collect himself and bask in what just happened. It took all of us there a minute (or a few days) to process what went down before our very eyes and that we were really in the presence of the greatness that is Stevie Wonder. It was an unexpected, amazing and awe-inspiring occasion that will forever be known as the best Wonder-Full that Washington, DC has ever seen.