Aretha Franklin will be the first female artist to receive the Award of Excellence from the United Negro College Fund.

The 64-year-old singer will receive the honor at the college fund's "An Evening of Stars," to be taped Sept. 8-9 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. The annual TV special will air nationwide in late January 2007.

Franklin is being honored for her work with the college fund to provide deserving students with access to higher education as well as for her activism and philanthropy on behalf of other causes.

Previous honorees include Lou Rawls, Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder.

Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO, said in a statement that Franklin's career "has established a standard of excellence that exemplifies the educational distinction to which our member colleges are dedicated and to which they hold their students."

Franklin, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has won 17 Grammy Awards. Her hits include "Chain of Fools," "Think" and "Respect."