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Society of Singers awards Gladys Knight prize

Soul diva Gladys Knight will get the 16th annual ELLA Award from the Society of Singers.

The honor, named after its first recipient, jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald, salutes vocalists for their musical successes and dedication to charitable and humanitarian causes.

"It is a truly awesome feeling to be receiving this honor. Ella was the sweetest and most beautiful person as a talent and as a human being," Knight said in a statement Tuesday.

Knight will receive the award Sept. 10 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Past winners include Elton John, Frank Sinatra and Celine Dion.

"Gladys Knight has one of the greatest and most distinctive voices of our time," Jerry F. Sharell, the Society of Singers' president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Knight, 62, has won seven Grammy Awards over her career and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her hits include "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "Midnight Train to Georgia." Last year, she released an album of standards, "Before Me," that paid tribute to great jazz singers of the past such as Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.

She began performing at age 4 and won a popular TV amateur competition at age 7. She performed for several decades with her musical group The Pips, and launched a solo career in the late '80s.

The Society of Singers, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization, offers services to meet the emergency financial needs of professional singers worldwide, according to a press release.

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