It is rare; virtually unheard of for a singer and their song to have a significant political impact. With the possible exception of Bob Dylan, whose songs had a lasting influence on American culture, American thought and the campuses in American Universities, the only another influential singer and song to have a significant effect was Stevie Wonder.
'Happy Birthday' was written, produced and performed by Stevie Wonder in 1981. Stevie Wonder was a social activist, and one of the main figures in the campaign to have the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. become a national holiday. He created the single, 'Happy Birthday' to make the cause known.
The song, which is one of many of Stevie Wonder's songs to feature the use of a keyboard synthesizer, features the singer lamenting the fact that anyone would oppose the idea of having a 'Dr. King holiday', where peace is celebrated throughout the world. Singing to King in the chorus, 'Happy birthday to you'. the holiday, he proposes, would facilitate the realisation of Dr. King's dreams of integration, along with the 'love and unity for all of God's children'.
Stevie Wonder used the song to popularise the campaign, and continued his fight for the holiday, holding the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. United States President Ronald Reagan approved the creation of the holiday, signing it into existence on November 2, 1983. The first official Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, held the third Monday in January of each year, was held on January 20, 1986, and was commemorated with a large-scale concert, where Stevie Wonder was the headlining performer. The song has been universally sung in celebration for the birthdays of millions of people ever since.
Love and peace. Bill xxx