Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wonder Honored by Library of Congress

After singing for nearly five decades about love, joy and injustices in the world, Stevie Wonder has been named the second recipient of the U.S. Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

The Motown icon, who will accept the prize in Washington, DC, on February 23 next year, also agreed to write a piece of music for the Library, joining a group of composers receiving commissions that range from Leonard Bernstein to Paquito D’Rivera.

“It’s an immense privilege to join such a remarkable roster of musicians and composers,” Wonder, 58, said in a statement. “I am touched to receive this honor, and look forward to creating music for the celebration.”

Librarian of Congress James Billington said the Gershwin Prize was set up to commemorate George and Ira Gershwin, the American songwriting team whose manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress.

He said the prize honors musicians for a lifetime of contributions to the field of popular music that helped bring diverse listeners together and fostered mutual understanding.

Last year the prize was awarded to Paul Simon.

Wonder, whose hits include “Superstition”, “I Just Called to Say I Love You” and “My Cherie Amour,” was born in Saginaw, Michigan. He became blind shortly after birth and still learned to play the harmonica, piano and drums by the age of 9.

He embarked on a concert tour this summer that he hoped would spread a message of unity among all religions and races.

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