President Obama to award Gershwin prize to Wonder

President Obama is scheduled to give the second Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to Stevie Wonder at a special concert on Feb. 25 in the East Room of the White House in celebration of Black History Month. The performance airs on PBS nationwide on Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. EST.

The concert features several performers (not yet announced) singing songs that propelled Wonder to stardom. Wonder is no stranger to Obama — he performed at Obama’s acceptance speech last August at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Obama used Wonder’s 1970 hit single “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” as a signature song on his presidential campaign trail.

The Library of Congress created the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song “to honor artists whose creative output transcends distinctions between musical styles and idioms, bringing diverse listeners together and fostering mutual understanding and appreciation.”

“Stevie Wonder is the epitome of what the Gershwin Prize stands for,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who selected Wonder for the honor in September 2008. “He has crossed musical and cultural boundaries and has made contributions to humanity far beyond the realm of entertainment.”

As an added distinction, the Library has offered, and Wonder has accepted, a musical commission. He joins a group of eminent composers who have received Library commissions, ranging from Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein to Paquito D’Rivera. Wonder will present the piece at a recital on Feb. 23 in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium.

Betsy Rothstein