As of Tuesday morning, people in Montreal were already lining up for a spot to see legendary musician Stevie Wonder, seen here in February. Wonder's free outdoor concert Tuesday night will help kick off the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Montreal is in party mode Tuesday as the city's annual jazz festival launches its 30th anniversary edition with a massive free concert by Stevie Wonder and celebrates the opening of its new permanent headquarters in the city's Quartier des spectacles.
Organizers welcomed Wonder at a press conference Tuesday afternoon and presented him with the festival's Spirit Award, which honours a performer for musical excellence, innovation and an undeniable influence on the international stage. Wonder is the fourth recipient, joining past laureates Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.
"It is truly an honour to be here at the Montreal jazz festival," Wonder said.
"Obviously the influence of jazz has consistently been there in the world of music and so I'm truly honoured to be a recipient of this honour," he said, adding that he felt "so proud of Montreal lifting up the spirit of music."
He also discussed his friend Michael Jackson, who died Thursday. "The most important thing is the music and the legacy he has left behind for us to celebrate," Wonder said. "The songs we have sung and danced to, and celebrated and cried to."
The legendary American musician will take the stage Tuesday night at the brand new Place des Festivals site. Giant screens will relay the show to other major stages as well, artistic director and festival co-founder André Menard told CBC News.
Fans were already lining up for a spot late Tuesday morning, reported CBC's Anna Asimakopulos, who added that rain or shine, organizers said they expect 100,000 people to show up for the concert.
Other headliners taking Montreal stages Tuesday night include beloved hometown piano great Oliver Jones, celebrated trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the award-winning Maria Schneider Orchestra.
I just got back from there, we were close to the stage. It was crazy. Stevie was hood y'all, he was quoting Biggie and dancing on top of his piano stool. He's so fucking amazing. He got emotional when talking about Michael and did a really moving tribute to him. It was great to see a living legend. Stevie is nuts and still on top of his game.
I took video and pictures. I'll update this post with them as soon as they finish uploading.
Here's the video I took of I Just Called To Say I Love You. Excuse my friend screaming next to me. We were high as hell and going nuts
Stevie: "All they're talkin' is a buncha bullshit"