|Stevie Wonder performs with his daughter and a young, terminally ill cancer patient named Leo. Clark Savage/Clayton Cameracraft. (click for larger version)|
ALPHARETTA - Stevie Wonder had no shortage of diehard fans filling the Verizon Amphitheater June 24.
Before the gates opened, the crowd had already started chanting, "Stevie, Stevie, Stevie."
Debra and Michael Vester of Alpharetta are fans of both Wonder and the Amphitheater. They have seen nearly every recent concert and plan to keep coming back for their "date night."
"We've never seen him live," she said, "but I grew up listening to him."
Debra remembered seeing his album cover everywhere when she was younger and she said she wasn't alone.
"There were some other ladies here that drove up from Savannah," she said. "Having the Amphitheater here is a huge convenience that it is right here. It's a fantastic place for the city."
Michael said everyone at work was "jealous" he was coming to see Wonder perform.
Lauren Dalrymple of Vinnings had her own sentimental reasons for coming Wonder's concert.
"I danced with my dad at my wedding in April to 'Isn't She Lovely,'" she said with a smile.
At 9:15 p.m., the lights went out and the crowd cheered. Wonder stepped out onto stage accompanied by his daughter, Aisha Morris, who was the inspiration for the hit single, "Isn't She Lovely."
Since the concert was scheduled to start at 8 p.m., Wonder acknowledged they were late in stepping out on stage. He said he had just met Leo, an 18-year-old terminally ill cancer patient, who accompanied Wonder for the entirety of the performance.
"Sure we are late, but it was for an amazing reason," he said. "This is a very special night. All of us are coming together for a good reason. When we get together as one people and in the spirit of God, wonderful things can happen."
Leo's family said the music had been an inspiration, Wonder said.
"When you leave tonight," he said, "I want you to say a special prayer for him and all of those dealing with an illness. The God I serve says impossible is unacceptable."
Following a rendition of "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch," the crowd had erupted into cheers and fans were dancing across the covered area as well as the lawn.
"We ain't through, yet," Wonder said with a grin. "We're just getting started."
Wonder had numerous sing along moments. Once, when the men in the audience were delivering what he believed to be a weak response, he tried to ignite some excitement with the crowd.
"Let the blind lead the confused," he joked, which was followed by a round of applause.
Wonder played without intermission for more than two hours. His daughter, Aisha, performed while her father played on the piano.
Wonder also pulled one man out of the crowd to sing with him who yelled, "I can't believe I'm on the stage with Stevie Wonder."
By the end of the performance, the entire Amphitheater crowd was on its feet.
"Thank you for helping me celebrate life and joy to Leo tonight," Wonder said. "If you really want to do something, use your heart to love somebody. Until we meet again, I will send you my love until my last breath."