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Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin to be honored by Society of Singers

for Journal Register Newspapers

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A pair of Detroit music legends -- Smokey Robinson and Aretha Franklin -- will be receiving prestigious awards from the Society of Singer (SOS) this fall.

Motown icon Robinson will receive the organizations 20th ELLA Award, presented annually "to a select entertainer for their significant achievements in music and for their dedicated efforts to benefit the community and worldwide humanitarian causes." Robinson said he's "very honored" by the prize, especially since he knew the award's namesake, the late Ella Fitzgerald.

"Ella Fitzgerald was one of the first people that I ever heard in my life, as a baby growing up in Detroit," Robinson explained. "I had two older sisters and my mom, and they were always playing music and of course Ella Fitzgerald was one they were playing all the time.

"When I got the chance to meet her, man, I was so honored and flabbergasted. And she was so sweet, just a wonderful lady. She acted like she had known me all of my life."

Previous ELLA Award recipients include Frank Sinatra, Placido Domingo, Elton John, Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett and Celine Dion.

Franklin will be receiving SOS's second Legend Award, while longtime session and soundtrack singer Sally Stevens will be getting its second Voice Award.

The SOS invitation-only awards ceremony takes place Sept. 19 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California.

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