NEW YORK — Stevie Wonder has always blended his musical genius with social activism, and as he launched his new tour, he stayed true to form, advocating gun control, pleading for an end to racism and advocating equality for those with disabilities.

“I challenge America, I challenge the world, to let hatred go, to let racism go,” Wonder told the sold-out audience at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. “That is the only way we will win as a nation and the world.”

Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” tour was dedicated to the music from that groundbreaking double album, which included classic hits like “Sir Duke,” ”I Wish,” ”As” and “Isn’t She Lovely.” A legendary album celebrated as much for its musicality as its message, the 1976 project won multiple Grammy Awards and further cemented Wonder’s brilliance.

The music still resonates, as Wonder proved during an electrifying concert that ran for almost three hours (including intermission) and had the audience roaring and standing on its feet in approval.

There were lighthearted moments, such as when Wonder confessed to a flub mid-song – “I forgot my own words,” he said, laughing early on.

He also dismissed recent reports that his partner is having triplets – it’s just one baby.

He then brought his infant daughter, Zaiah, onstage for a performance of “Isn’t She Lovely,” which he wrote for daughter Aisha Morris – one of his background singers – years ago.

–From news service reports