Stevie Wonder gets political at ASCAP expo: 'Stop saying, 'can you believe what he said?'

Is Stevie Wonder contemplating a run for office? The crowd gathered at Los Angeles' Loews Hollywood Hotel for the 2017 ASCAP Expo wildly cheered the thought, which the legendary music-maker floated while sharing insights on his career and the current political scene during a speech on Saturday. "I'm practicing to become President myself," he said while explaining his close association with the Obamas. "We'll be building love bombs."

Wonder accepted the inaugural "key of life" award from the performing rights organization, presented by ASCAP president Paul Williams, before some 2,000 attendees on Saturday afternoon. (The conference ran from April 13-15). He also participated in a keynote Q&A that included impromptu jam sessions, with moderator Janelle Monae occasionally providing backup vocals.

16 PHOTOS
Celebs Vote: Stars who support Donald Trump
See Gallery
Celebs Vote: Stars who support Donald Trump

Willie Robertson (of "Duck Dynasty")

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Dennis Rodman

(Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

Wayne Newton

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA)

Rosanne Barr

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for TV Land)

Gary Busey

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Mike Tyson

(Getty)

Teresa Giudice (of "Real Housewives of New Jersey")

(Photo by: Tommy Garcia/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Jon Voight

(Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)

Stephen Baldwin

(Photo by Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic)

Kid Rock

(UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)

Tila Tequila

(Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Stacey Dash

(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Kendra Wilkinson

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Azealia Banks

(Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

Sarah Palin

(Kris Connor/Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"People hating people because of their sexual preference, or the color of their skin or their religion — it's just ignorance and stupidity," said Wonder during the politically charged talk. "Thinking about these last 12 years, so many things happening in the world, we are left with the challenge of getting the world back to the right place. And we know consistently what has been so important in doing that is music."

Putting actions to his words, the 56-year-old debuted a new song called "Where Is Our Love Song," the music for which he wrote in 1971. The lyrics came to the father of nine more recently, inspired by world events that Wonder called "a heartbreak ... all the negativity, the people that felt they wanted to make America great again when America already is great."

The 25-time Grammy winner is no stranger to politics, with a catalog that runs deep on social issues, from the ghetto tableau of 1973's "Living for the City" to the 1974 Nixon-era indictment "You Haven't Done Nothin'" (which remixed as an anti-Trump statement became a web meme during the last election cycle). He played some of his 1973 song "Visions," a commentary on failed efforts to create a Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, during his Expo appearance. His 1980 song "Happy Birthday" is cited as a catalyst for congress passing the bill in 1983.

19 PHOTOS
Madonna and Stevie Wonder Billboard Music Awards 2016
See Gallery
Madonna and Stevie Wonder Billboard Music Awards 2016
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artists Stevie Wonder (L) and Madonna perform a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/BBMA2016/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artist Madonna performs a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artist Madonna performs a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artists Stevie Wonder (L) and Madonna perform a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/BBMA2016/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artists Stevie Wonder (L) and Madonna perform a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artist Madonna performs a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/BBMA2016/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artist Madonna performs a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/BBMA2016/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artist Madonna performs a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/BBMA2016/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artist Madonna performs a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artist Madonna performs a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/BBMA2016/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artist Madonna performs a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artist Madonna performs a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artists Stevie Wonder (L) and Madonna perform a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artists Stevie Wonder (L) and Madonna perform onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/BBMA2016/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Singer Madonna performs a tribute Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/BBMA2016/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Recording artist Madonna performs a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Musician Stevie Wonder (L) and co-host Ciara attend the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/BBMA2016/Getty Images for dcp)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Singers Madonna and Stevie Wonder attend the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/BBMA2016/FilmMagic)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"Your contributions really did change the course of history," said Monae, a six-time Grammy-nominated singer and founder of her own label, Wondaland. "Right now, the climate we're in, with president 45 and the current administration trying to take us back, do you still feel like there's still power in music the way there was?"

Wonder urged the audience of rapt listeners to "demand that people be accountable. Citizens have to be accountable; artists have to be accountable; leaders have to be accountable as well. Stop saying, 'Can you believe what he said?' 'Can you believe what she said?' Believe it! And say it's unacceptable."

Fellow Detroit natives were not immune from his canny assessments. "So many things are washed over, like our friend from Detroit who was appointed head of HUD," he said referring to Ben Carson. "I don't really get it. A brilliant surgeon, I'm sure a really smart man, but somewhere along the way, something got confused."

The "key of life" award was created to celebrate Wonder's "incomparable contributions to the world through his music," Williams said, noting, "Stevie has deservedly been given every award imaginable, yet he continues to innovate and elevate the art of songwriting to the point where no honor can truly capture what he means" to songwriters and music lovers worldwide as well as his compatriots at ASCAP, where Wonder has been a member for more than five decades.

In the future, the "key of life" honor will be presented to songwriters and composers who best exemplify Wonder's legacy "through their commitment to the art form he elevated through his talent, dedication, and unparalleled heart."

Subscribe to Variety Newsletters and Email Alerts!

Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL to get the hottest pop culture news delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.