President Barack Obama planned to present the nation's second Gershwin Prize for Popular Song during a concert featuring Tony Bennett, Martina McBride and Wonder himself.
Michelle Obama paid her own tribute as she welcomed guests, recalling how she and her grandfather would listen to Wonder's albums together.
"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. He would let me listen to
these songs over and over and over and over again," she said.
The first lady said the first album she bought was Wonder's "Talking Book," and she and Barack Obama used "You and I" as their wedding song.
The president also used Wonder's music as part of his campaign soundtrack, although the Library of Congress decided to honor Wonder before Obama won the election in November.
Wonder, who has won 25 Grammy Awards, has hits that include "Superstition" and "For Once In My Life." Obama's campaign used "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours" and "Higher Ground"
among its unofficial theme songs.
The Gershwin Prize honors George and Ira Gershwin and is given for lifetime achievement in popular music. Paul Simon claimed the nation's first prize in 2007.
Wonder's White House performance will be broadcast Thursday on PBS stations as part of a White House series.