Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stevie Wonder's White House Honor To Feature Special Guests

Jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall, multiple Grammy winner Tony Bennett, singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding, hip-hop artist and producer Will.I.Am, country star Martina McBride, and gospel duo Mary Mary will all be on hand to help salute singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder when he is honored in Washington, D.C., this Wednesday (February 25th). President Barack Obama himself will present the Motown legend with the Second Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song at a special concert in the East Room of the White House in celebration of African American History Month.

The program will be taped as part of PBS'In Performance At The White House series, and will air on PBS stations the following evening, Thursday, February 26th, at 8 p.m. ET (check local listings).

Wonder will be just the second person to receive the honor after Paul Simon. In addition, Wonder was commissioned by the Library of Congress to create a new work in honor of the Gershwin Prize, named for American composers George and Ira Gershwin. Wonder performed the piece Sunday (February 23rd) in the Library's Coolidge Auditorium.

In the meantime Wonder is scheduled to begin recording a CD of duets with Tony Bennett that will be produced by Quincy Jones. In mid 2008, though, Wonder was still considering the project, as he told us: "I'm the last one to hear about it and the first one to agree. Definitely, Tony and I talked about doing some stuff together. And Quincy and I have always wanted to work together on a project. So if this is something that Quincy is doing and Tony and everyone has decided to kind of go in that direction. Obviously I'm a great fan of Tony Bennett and I've been since a little kid, you know, so I'm excited to be a part of it."

Wonder has also talked about releasing an album of new material dedicated to his late mother, Lula Mae Hardaway.

By: Janine Coveney

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