BEVERLY HILLS – Gladys Knight, whose five-decade career covers gospel, pop and R&B, will receive the 16th annual Ella Award from the Society of Singers tonight. Named after its first recipient, Ella Fitzgerald, the award is given to singers “whose significant musical accomplishments are equaled by their dedication to charitable and humanitarian causes both local and international,” according to the Society of Singers. SOS, a nonprofit organization that offers comprehensive services to meet the emergency financial needs of professional singers worldwide, will present the award to Knight at a ceremony at the Beverly Hilton hotel. Melissa Etheridge, Smokey Robinson, Johnny Mathis, Kimberley Locke and Wayne Brady are among those expected to attend. Previous recipients of the award, besides Fitzgerald herself, include Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett and Placido Domingo. “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,” said SOS President and Chief Executive Officer Jerry F. Sharell. A seven-time Grammy Award winner with number one hits in the pop, R&B and Adult Contemporary formats, Knight has released nearly 40 albums. Her most recent, “Before Me,” a tribute to the likes of 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, according to SOS. SOS was founded in 1984 by Chairman Emeritus Ginny Mancini and Gilda Maiken Anderson when the two 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. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!