Monday, April 30, 2007


Gladys Knight, a singer, actress and humanitarian whose five-decade career stretches from gospel music to pop hits to R&B classics, has been chosen as the recipient of the 16th Annual ELLA Award by the Society of Singers (SOS). The announcement was made by Jerry F. Sharell, the president and CEO of SOS, a non-profit organization that offers comprehensive services to meet the emergency financial needs of professional singers worldwide. Named after its first recipient, Ella Fitzgerald, the ELLA Award is given to singers whose significant musical accomplishments are equaled by their dedication to charitable and humanitarian causes both local and international.

"Gladys Knight has one of the greatest and most distinctive voices of our time, and is a woman who has helped countless people through her humanitarian and philanthropic work," says Sharell. A seven-time Grammy Award winner with Number One hits in the pop, R&B and Adult Contemporary formats, Knight has released close to 40 albums; her hits include "Midnight Train to Georgia," "I've Got to Use My Imagination" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Her most recent album is "Before Me," a tribute to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. The fall 2006 release was part of a charity initiative that Knight launched in collaboration with Ashley Stewart Stores. She also works with charities ranging from the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society to the Minority AIDS Project and amFAR.

The honor will be presented to Knight at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2007. Previous recipients of the ELLA Award, besides Ms. Fitzgerald herself, include Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett and Placido Domingo.

The Society of Singers was founded in 1984 by Chairman Emeritus Ginny (Mrs. Henry) Mancini and Gilda Maiken Anderson when the two friends, both of them former professional singers, realized that many of their friends and colleagues were without pensions, unions, medical insurance or places to turn for financial help during tough times. SOS aids professional singers of all ages, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and offers scholarship programs designed to advance the vocal arts.

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