Dr. James Perone Authors "The Sound of Stevie Wonder"

April 06, 2010

Dr. James Perone, professor of music, at Mount Union College has released his newest book, The Sound of Stevie Wonder.

The first published work in the Praeger Singer-Songwriter Collection, it is not so much a biography of Wonder himself as an in-depth analysis of his works.

'In this book I discuss the songs, what they mean in the context of their time period and the characters Wonder portrays,' Perone said. 'The book is basically a listener's guide to the recordings of Stevie Wonder.'

The book contains a brief summary of the songwriter's life and accomplishments, however the overall organization of the book is based around his recordings with some biographical material integrated in. Perone also included various lyrical extracts and photos of Wonder.

Although Perone did not work with Wonder himself on the book., he did submit a letter to Motown, but it was never answered.

'With this type of subjective listener's guide, usually the artist and their management are not particularly interesting in helping out,' Perone said.

Due to the 'fair use' section of copyright law, Perone did not need copyright permission to use the lyrical extracts. Perone, on the other hand, did receive permission to use photos of Wonder in his book.

A nine-month endeavor, the completed manuscript was sent to an independent book production company. The production manager of this company is Mary Cotofan, a 2003 graduate of MountUnion.

The Sound of Stevie Wonder is the first in the Praeger Singer-Songwriter Collection. The series came about when the Greenwood Publishing Group wanted to develop a collection on singer-songwriters.

The company asked Perone, who had been affiliated with it since the mid-1990's when he wrote Howard Hanson: A Bio-Bibliography, to serve as the series editor. Together they defined, approved and built the series.

With a list of potential subjects but no proposals, Perone offered to write the first volume on Wonder. A huge fan, Perone felt a book about Wonder would be the best way to kick-off the series.

'Stevie Wonder is one of the of the consummate singer songwriters,' Person said. 'After he developed his artistic independence at Motown in the early '70's, he has recorded virtually only his own material.'

The second book in the series, The Words and Music of Frank Zappa, authored by former faculty member Kelly Lowe, has also been released. The Words and Music of Carol King written by Perone is set to come out by the end of 2006. He is also working on a David Bowie volume to be released by the end of 2007.

Also set for release is The Words and Music of Bruce Springsteen by Rob Kirkpatrick. Other artists covered will be Bob Marley, Jay-Z, Paul Simon and Ice Cube. The series also hopes to cover Joni Mitchell, Prince and Patti Smith.

Currently, Perone is working on a proposal to write a book for possible release in 2008. Since he does not have a contract, no names can be mentioned.

'Let's just say that it's a famous singer-songwriter from Minnesota,' Perone said.

The Sound of Stevie Wonder is currently available at www.amazon.com.

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