Legendary singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder has been chosen as the second recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The award presentation will take place in the Library’s Great Hall on Feb. 23, 2009. A concert celebrating the award is being planned for the following evening.
In addition to the prize, Wonder has accepted the Library’s offer of a musical commission. With that acceptance, Wonder enters a circle of noted composers — including Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and Paquito D’Rivera — who have received Library commissions.
“It’s an immense privilege to join such a remarkable roster of musicians and composers,” said Wonder in a statement. “I am touched to receive this honor and look forward to creating music for the celebration.”
A winner of 25 Grammy Awards, Wonder was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2005 the Library of Congress placed Wonder’s 1976 double album “Songs in the Key of Life” in the National Recording Registry, which recognizes recordings that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically important and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.”
The first Gershwin Prize — established in tribute to the legacy of composer siblings George and Ira Gershwin — was awarded in May 2007 to singer/songwriter Paul Simon. This year’s Prize advisory committee was comprised of Simon, singer/pianist Michael Feinstein, “Saturday Night Live” creator and producer Lorne Michaels, music producer Phil Ramone and New Orleans singer/songwriter/producer Allen Toussaint.