ARETHA FRANKLIN will be the first female artist to be honoured with the Award of Excellence from the United Negro College Fund for her stirling philanthropic work. The RESPECT singer is set to receive the trophy at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood next month (SEP06) in a ceremony which will be broadcast in a TV special in January (JAN07). The veteran hitmaker was chosen for the award on account of her work with the college fund to provide struggling students with access to higher education as well as for her activism for other causes. Previous stars to pick up the award include LOU RAWLS, QUINCY JONES and STEVIE WONDER. UNCF president and CEO and MICHAEL L LOMAX said that the soul queen'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."