By Keldine Hull
Diners at Skylight Gardens in Westwood got the surprise of a lifetime when Stevie Wonder joined in-house performer and guitarist Nelson Cade III for an unforgettable impromptu performance. The surprise 30-minute set with the Grammy Award-winning Motown legend began with an Eric Clapton classic.
“The audience was completely enthralled. No one knew what was going to happen, which songs we were going to go into. The whole evening was so raw and immediate. We started the riff to ‘Tears in heaven’, bled into ‘Imagine’, then Stevie started playing ‘Superstition.’ With each song, it seemed to gather more and more reaction from the crowd. They were cheering and singing along. All in all, I believe everyone in the audience enjoyed themselves,” Cade said.
While the evening played out like a scene straight out of a movie as the crowd grew, for Cade the experience was surreal.
“When I was approached by Stevie’s bodyguard, my wildest dream would be simply that maybe Stevie wanted to meet me and chat. That alone would have easily been a life-changing moment for me. When he instead asked if Stevie could play, I instantly wanted to break down. Looking back at it, I don’t know how I kept it together. I said, ‘Yes! Yes! Of course! Absolutely. Yes!’ I was utterly unprepared for that particular scenario; it hadn’t dawned on me that he would have wanted to jam,” Cade said.
And like a dream come true, Cade got to experience something precious few musicians get the opportunity to do: perform with their idols.
“The entire time we played, I was probably the proudest I’ve ever been. To think I’m playing with one of my musical heroes, with my mother’s favorite musician of all time, this is actually happening- it was absolutely exhilarating! And yes, I called my mom right after it all happened to tell her!” Cade said.
Cade, who made the decision three years ago to pursue music full time, had some time to speak to Stevie Wonder after their set. “He asked if I wrote music. I replied, ‘Yes I do.’ I explained that I am working on my first EP and expect to release it by summer’s end. He told me he can’t wait to hear my music. I keep hearing that sentence in my head. Finishing this EP is the most exciting challenge of my life, and now more than ever I have all the more purpose to do it right.” Cade continued, “I feel that most musicians have this everlasting battle with self-doubt, and the wonder of will I be able to make this work? I think more than anything this night has affected me by granting me an answer that I simply can’t argue with. ‘I can’t wait to hear your music’ will ring in my head every time I have a doubt or low point. ‘I can’t wait to hear your music’ will keep bouncing around in my brain to remind me that it’s all real.”