Motown legend Smokey Robinson will be the recipient of the 20th ELLA Award (named after Ella Fitzgerald) presented by the Society of Singers (SOS).
“I’m very honored by this,” Robinson tells Billboard magazine. “Ella Fitzgerald was one of the first people that I ever heard in my life, as a baby growing up in Detroit. 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. She acted like she had known me all of my life.”
Robinson will receive his award alongside another Detroit legend – Aretha Franklin. “She’s my baby,” he gushes. “I’ve known her since we were kids, y’know? I haven’t seen her in awhile, so I hope she’s there (at the ceremony).”
The ELLA Award has been presented since 1989 “to a select entertainer for their significant achievements in music and for their dedicated efforts to benefit the community and worldwide humanitarian causes.” Previous recipients include Natalie Cole, Herb Alpert, Andy Williams, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, Elton John, Celine Dion, Barry Manilow, Placido Domingo, Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Rosemary Clooney, Lena Horne, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme, Peggy Lee, Tony Martin and Frank Sinatra.
A Motown triple-threat as a performer, writer and producer, Smokey Robinson has also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Soul Train Music Award for Career Achievement and an ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award. He’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, both on his own and with his group, the Miracles, and he received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2006.