Soul legend Smokey Robinson has been named the 2011 recipient of the Ella Award by America's Society of Singers.
Robinson admits the honour excites him more than many accolades he has received because it also honours the woman he calls "mom", Ella Fitzgerald.
The Motown icon says, "She was just such a wonderful lady. I loved her so much, and she was always so sweet to me."
He will be the 20th recipient of the prize, which is given to entertainers for their "significant achievements in music and for their dedicated efforts to benefit the community and worldwide humanitarian causes."
Previous recipients include Natalie Cole, Andy Williams, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, Elton John and Frank Sinatra.
Another soul icon, Aretha Franklin, will also be feted by the Society at its annual gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel next month (Sep19) - she'll be honoured with the organisation's Legend Award, according to
Robinson tells the website, "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 honoured and flabbergasted. And she was so sweet. She acted like she had known me all of my life."