February 25, 2009: Stevie Wonder Receives Gershwin Prize at White House

Stevie Wonder
Photo Credit
The White House / Pete Souza

On this day in 2009, the Obamas welcomed music icon Stevie Wonder into the White House to honor the Motown legend with the acclaimed Gershwin Prize.

The chart-topping soul singer, whose hits include "My Cherie Amour" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You" was presented with the Library of Congress' second annual Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to honor the impact of his musical legacy on unifying cultures. 

Both former First Lady Michelle and former President Barack ushered in the musician with heaps of praise, crediting Wonder as being his musical wingman. 

“We honor a man whose music and lyrics I fell in love with when I was a litte girl,” the First Lady shared. “The first album I ever bought was Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book. Years later when I discovered what Stevie meant when he sang about love, Barack and I chose the song "You and I" as our wedding song,” she added. 

Obama also noted Wonder’s influence on his own life, praising his music’s universal appeal. 

“I think it’s fair to say that had I not been a Stevie Wonder fan, Michelle might not have dated me,” he confessed. 

“And I’m not alone,” he continued, paying tribute to the universal appeal of Wonder's music. “Millions of people around the world have found similar comfort and joy in Stevie’s music and its unique capacity to find hope in struggle and humanity in our common hardships.”

The Gershwin Prize honors George and Ira Gershwin, awarded for lifetime achievement in popular music. The first Gershwin Prize was presented to Paul Simon. 

Obama infused his 2008 campaign soundtrack with Wonder's songs, including "Higher Ground" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours," which Wonder performed that night as the former presidential duo smiled along.  

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