Wonder, Gaye To Be Honored At R&B Awards

Impressions, Chi-lites, Betty Wright among honorees at September ceremony in New York.

R&B giant Stevie Wonder will collect a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 11th Annual Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards on Sept. 6 in New York.

R&B acts the Impressions and the Chi-lites, as well as Johnnie Johnson, Clyde Otis, Sylvia Robinson, Huey Smith and Betty Wright, all will receive Pioneer Awards at the ceremony, according to an announcement made Wednesday (June 21).

Smokey Robinson will return for the third straight year to host the awards, which also will include a posthumous presentation to Marvin Gaye, who died in 1984. The singer, whose popular hits included the 1973 song "Let's Get It On" (RealAudio excerpt of live version), will be awarded the second annual Legacy Tribute Award, given last year to Sam Cooke.

Normally held in California the day before the Grammy Awards, this year's ceremony was switched to a September date in New York for financial reasons, according to Lindajo Loftus, a publicist for the event. Now falling the day before the MTV Music Awards, the show is able to draw from the heavy music-industry presence in town that weekend. (Sonicnet.com's parent company, Viacom, also owns MTV.)

This year's ceremony introduces a new award — the Founders Award — which will be presented to Ahmet Ertegan, the co-founder of Atlantic Records who already is enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ertegan donated the initial money, in 1989, to help launch the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.