If there’s an heir apparent to the legendary Patti LaBelle, it just may be Fantasia. At least that seemed to be the case as the J Records artist and former “American Idol” queen earned two raucous standing ovations during the taping of the United Negro College Fund’s annual “Evening of Stars” tribute to LaBelle.

The tribute was staged at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on Sept. 13.
Presented by sponsor Target, the two-hour special will air January 24-25, 2009 on select network stations as well as BET and Superstation WGN Chicago.

Performing “Lady Marmalade” and later “Somebody Loves You Baby (You Know Who It Is),” Fantasia tore the house down each time with her soulful shrieks and wails. LaBelle herself danced with the young singer when Fantasia stepped off the stage while singing “Lady” and sashaying her way to where LaBelle was sitting.

Jennifer Hudson, whose self-titled Arista debut album arrives in stores Sept. 30, more than held her own on the LaBelle-recorded tracks
“Stir It Up” and “Over the Rainbow.”

Another highlight of the evening was the onstage reteaming of Labelle
members Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx. The trio has reunited for a new album on Verve, “Back to Now,” due Oct. 21. The project’s lead single is the mid-tempo dance track “Roll Out,” produced by and featuring Wyclef Jean.

Among the night’s other performers and presenters were Yolanda Adams, Mario, Chrisette Michele, Brian McKnight, Wayne Brady, Big Daddy Kane, Sheila E, radio personality Tom Joyner, BET chairman/CEO Debra Lee and UNCF president/CEO Dr. Michael Lomax. Serving as musical director was Rickey Minor.

LaBelle joins such earlier UNCF honorees as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Quincy Jones.