45 Years Ago: Stevie Wonder Visits ‘Sesame Street’
Wonder, then 23 years old, performed his song "Superstition," the No. 1 hit off his album Talking Book. He also interacted with the show's characters, to the delight of both viewers and the program's cast.
Sonia Manzano, who played the role of Maria for decades, called the episode one of the highlights of her tenure on Sesame Street – and not just for the music.
"The whole studio rocked out and it was great," she told NPR in 2015, "because white people, black people, young people, old people — everybody was on the same page for that two minutes that he sang and that really stands out."
Wonder didn't drop in just to sing his own hit and split. He opened the show with a ditty he wrote for the kids: "123 Sesame Street" was a talk box-heavy tune that recalled the famous address next to Oscar the Grouch's trashcan and Big Bird's nest.
Wonder also appeared in short segments throughout the show. One of the sweet kid-friendly moments occurred when he tried to teach Grover, another of the show's beloved characters, how to sing.
Sesame Street was in its fourth season when Wonder paid his visit, and the time he spent in this fictional world illustrated the show's goals, to break down racial, gender and socioeconomic barriers for children and their parents. That moment resonated with Manzano.
"[When] we started this show," she said, "we thought we were going to end racism, we were going to close the education gap. ... We had big dreams! And moments like Stevie being on the show gave us a glimpse of the way things could be."