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Stevie Wonder awarded Gershwin Prize by first fan Barack Obama

February 26, 2009 | 12:32 pm

President Barack Obama says he won Michelle Obama over with their shared love of the music of Stevie Wonder. During Wednesday's White House presentation to Wonder of the Gershwin Prize — an honor bestowed by the Library of Congress — the president said, "I think it's fair to say that had I not been a Stevie Wonder fan, Michelle might not have dated me, we might not have married. The fact that we agreed on Stevie was part of the essence of our courtship."

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And Michelle Obama reminisced about listening to Stevie Wonder's albums with her grandfather: "He'd blast music throughout the house and that's where he and I would sit and listen to Stevie's music together — songs about life, love, romance, heartache, despair." The Obamas chose Stevie Wonder's "You and I" from his breakthrough 1972 album "Talking Book" as the first song at their 1992 wedding.

The Library of Congress established the Gershwin Prize two years ago to "celebrate the work of an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding." The first recipient was Paul Simon while Stevie Wonder is the second. During the White House ceremony,  Wonder performed for the first couple and an invited audience. That concert will air tonight on most PBS stations.

Stevie Wonder has won a record 22 Grammy Awards, tying him with U2, and he was given the lifetime achievement Grammy in 1996. He has been inducted into both the songwriters (1983) and rock and roll (1989) halls of fame.  Wonder won best song at the 1994 Oscars for "I Just Called to Say I Love You" from "The Woman in Red" and in 1999 he was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors.

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Photo: Motown

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