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Stevie Wonder Honored at the White House Feb. 27-09

Updated on January 24, 2013

Marian Anderson

Gershwin Prize Awarded by President Obama to Stevie Wonder

President Obama awarded the Gershwin Prize tonight, Feb. 27, 2009, to Stevie Wonder. After being introduced by an elegant and poised Michelle Obama, gorgeous in a simple green dress, Stevie played the first song and was followed by seven wonderful contemporary artists whose YouTube video performances are presented below. (These videos are not their White House performances. I plucked them from the many that are available on YouTube. I was unable to find a performance by the great soprano Anita Johnson, so I had to make do with a photo.) Stevie Wonder wrapped up the evening with two more songs-- Signed, Sealed, Delivered and Superstition.

We've come a long way since the Daughters of the Amercian Revolution barred Marian Anderson in 1939 from singing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall in our nation's capital. She sang a historic concert before 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial instead. In 1955 she became the first African-American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera. She sang at the March on Washington. It's a shame she didn't live long enough to sing at the White House tonight. On a personal note: One of my early lessons in race relations came from hearing that, following the D.A.R. incident, my mother resigned from the organization upon the urging of my father. The story was repeated to me and my brothers and sister as a lesson in what our parents stood for.

Stevie Wonder Honored at the White House

Stevie Wonder "Sunshine of My Life"

Esperanza Spalding

Tony Bennett "For Once in My Life"

Diana Krall

Mary Mary "Can't Give Up Now"

India Arie

Martina McBride

Anita Johnson, soprano

Paul Simon "Slip Slidin' Away"

Stevie Wonder--"Signed, Sealed, Delivered"

Stevie Wonder--"Superstition"

Marian Anderson's Historic 1939 Concert at the Lincoln Memorial


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      ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

      It was quite a trip. In many ways.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      That would be great. I missed out on the first one.

    • profile image

      ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

      There are so many great performers that came out of the sixties and seventies. They did so much more than produce amazing music. They helped open the eyes and raise the consciousness of millions of people. We could use a renewed voice of music in these crucial days. Maybe it’s out there and I’m just not catching it but I don’t see a new Bob Dylan, Buffy Sainte-Marie or Don Henley on the horizon. Maybe we should just bring back the MC5 and Edwin Starr, Country Joe and the Fish. Could it be time for another Woodstock, please?

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for correcting my spelling, Storytellersrus--it's Joni Mitchell.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Stevie Wonder's lifetime contribution has been magnificent. I was pleased to read this. Thanks!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for the comment. It was quite a nice concert. It will be repeated on PBS. Worth catching if you get the chance.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Thanks for sharing this, Ralph.  I'm sure it was a thrill for Obama to have this honor.  So good to know.  Um, how about Cat Stevens?  Oh probably too controversial, though his Morning Has Broken is in our church hymnal.  What about, ah, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young?  Have they been honored individually or as a group?  I am stretching backwards now.  I think my Up on the Roof heroine Laura Nero died :(.  BTW, is that how you spell Joanie?  It doesn't look right.  I am assuming Al Jarreau has already been honored?  I would need a list.  James Taylor?  Carly Simon?  I definitely need a list, haha.  Are we on the 70s track?  Chuck Mangione? Again, thanks for writing the Hub.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Suggestions for future White House concerts--Bruce Springsteen, Fats Domino, Aretha Franklin, Audra McDonald, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Joanie Mitchell.

      Anybody have any other suggestions?