Pick of the Week: Gary Clark Jr. and Stevie Wonder “What About the Children”

A gradient background of purple, pink and blue, with large black text that reads "What About the Children, Gary Clark Jr. and Stevie Wonder." In the top left corner, a blue guitar pick reads "WERS 88.9 FM Pick of the Week"
Graphics by Celia Abbott

By Ash Jones, Staff Writer

Old-school meets new-school on this bluesy track that exemplifies the heart of melodious kinship. “What About the Children” is a zealous call to action in its own right. Gary Clark Jr. brings in soul brother Stevie Wonder, and they bellow into the mic like it's a bullhorn. 

This new song off of Clark’s 2024 album, JPEG RAW, reiterates strife. It’s a reminder that the subsequent generation will endure the brunt of hardship, persisting a pattern of unresolved social issues in America. 

Illustrating painfully true realities, ones that have been stuck in cultural-grown cycles, Clark and Wonder amplify the unrelenting boulders that have weighed down their communities for centuries. “What About the Children” is a song about changing the plagued narrative in the pursuit for salvation. 



Nurtured by the bucolic, lone-star roots of Austin, Texas, Gary Clark Jr. began jamming away on his guitar at the age of twelve. He became a real bluesman in his teens which solidified the grounded, ragtime nature of his artistry.  Clark’s niche is country-personified. Mix that southern sound with the R&B soul of Stevie Wonder and you get a funky junction with dollops of churning melancholia. 

Wonder is now a seasoned patriarch of the music industry; he needs no introduction. The former “Little” Stevie Wonder is now a 73-year old Godfather of Soul with a knack for infusing an eclectic array of lush harmonies into his discography. The span of Wonder’s career has been embedded with motifs of social issues intertwined with the Black American experience. Wonder’s feature fits like a glove. Though an ephemeral appearance on the track, Wonder’s voice soars the same way it did in his golden days. The rasp of his weathered, though fortified voice, seals the gritty narrative that reads throughout.



“What About the Children” opens with a guitar riff which one could imagine being echoed out of an Austin juke joint. A crying organ is then acquainted with the strings, and the seams of Clark’s and Wonder’s musical styles start to weave together. 

The first line asserts an emboldened tone by promulgating the title of the song. It points a finger to the overarching issue that the song hammers away at. What follows is a portrait of Black life that examines the tumultuous dynamics continuing to affect today’s youth. Clark and Wonder punch through the wall of noise and caterwaul the unceasing adversities of poverty, broken families and criminalization within Black America. 



The song underscores similar sentiments of Wonder’s “Living for the City,” another reason as to why his feature makes sense. Wonder’s perspective is honest and genuine to the thesis of Clark’s “What About The Children.”

The civil concerns of America didn’t die out in the time of Wonder, and Clark isn’t afraid to talk about the same conversation that’s been perpetually circling laps around the world. Wonder and Clark are scaffolded, simultaneously chanting a winded, though necessary mantra that pertains to a pervasive reality for the unheard. 

A seismic climax is ruptured as the song fizzles out. Clark and Wonder regurgitate lines that overlap with one another, creating a frayed, clamorous uproar that reflects the fervency of civil unrest. The ending’s succession of lyrics make for an outcry that’s wailed into the abyss. Lines such as “What about them babies?,” “What about the stabbing?,” followed by, “Why are you so heartless?” and “I can’t take it no more” is deeply visceral. 

Clark and Wonder never get their despairing inquiries answered. Nor are they resolved. That doesn’t make their declarations any less striking, it rather holds a mirror to the apathetic. Clark and Wonder confront the people who are afraid to acknowledge the rawness of this common fate.



The rest of JPEG RAW is brimming with zest, and approaches each track with a voltaic punch. Some soft, some rough around the edges, Clark’s catalog is undeniably patched by the flux of his individual musicality. 

Country blues is often viewed as a dying art, but Clark proves that his artistry is spry. He nestles his way into the music scene with ease, especially wooing the Southern crowd with his suave charm. 

This summer, Clark will travel across the Atlantic and touch down in Europe and South America. Additionally, the majority of his concerts will be held in Southern and Midwestern America. By the end of his tour, Clark’s guitar will be worn thin after spitting cosmic sparks into the crowd for nights on end.

Every Monday, our music staff brings you a new Pick of The Week, detailing some of our favorite songs. Check out our previous Picks of the Week here, and make sure to tune in to WERS 88.9FM!

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