Michelle Obama says Stevie Wonder’s ‘Talking Book’ had biggest influence on her during SXSW keynote

The First Lady of the United States was joined by Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott and more in Austin

Michelle Obama told the audience at her SXSW keynote speech that Stevie Wonder‘s album ‘Talking Book’ is the record that had the biggest influence on her.

The First Lady of the United States was in Austin, Texas to discuss her Let Girls Learn initiative, which aims to empower young women across the world and help them gain an education.

Queen Latifah acted as moderator during the talk, which also featured contributions from Missy Elliott, songwriter Diane Warren and actress Sophia Bush. Questions were asked of the panel from the audience and from those sent in via social media in the lead-up to the event.


One audience member asked the group which album had the biggest influence on them and their lives. Obama replied: “Stevie Wonder. Anything Stevie Wonder.”

“The very first album of my whole life was ‘Talking Book’. My grandad – we called him Southside because he lived on the south side of Chicago, not very imaginative – loved music. He was a carpenter and collected jazz. He had turntables all around the house and reel-to-reels. I used to go to his house and play with his dog called Rex – again, not very imaginative – and play music with him.

“For my birthday, he bought me ‘Talking Book’ and I played it over and over and over again, until ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ and then I played that over and over and over again. [Wonder’s] songs talked about unity and love and peace. His songs are impacting and push you to think about how you could affect the world. Stevie all the way.”

Earlier in the day, FLOTUS revealed a song specifically written for the Let Girls Learn campaign. ‘This Is For My Girls’ was written by Diane Warren and features contributions from Missy Elliott, Janelle Monaé, Kelly Clarkson, Kelly Rowland, Lea Michele, and Zendaya. All proceeds from the single will be donated to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund.