December 2, 2009 / 9:07 PM / 10 years ago

Stevie Wonder named U.N. peace messenger

Stevie Wonder performs at the taping of the 2009 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles in this July 15, 2009 file photo. Wonder has been appointed a U.N. "messenger of peace" with a special focus on people with disabilities, the United Nations announced on Wednesday. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - American Grammy Award-winning singer Stevie Wonder has been appointed a U.N. “messenger of peace” with a special focus on people with disabilities, the United Nations announced on Wednesday.

Messengers of peace are celebrities mainly from the fields of film, music, literature and sport who promote U.N. activities and ideals through public appearances and media contacts.

In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described Wonder, who is blind, as “a true inspiration to young people all over the world about what can be achieved despite any physical limitations.”

“He has consistently used his voice and special relationship with the public to create a better and more inclusive world, to defend civil and human rights and to improve the lives of those less fortunate,” Ban said.

Wonder, 59, became blind shortly after birth but learned to play the harmonica, piano and drums by age 9.

In his career, Wonder recorded 32 No. 1 R&B and pop singles, won 25 Grammy Awards and sold more than 100 million records.

Wonder, whose hits include “Superstition,” “I Just Called to Say I Love You” and “My Cherie Amour,” embarked on a concert tour last year that he said he hoped would spread a message of unity among all religions and races.

Reporting by Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Stacey Joyce

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