Janet Jackson Becomes First Black Woman to Receive Billboard Icon Award
Janet Jackson kept the hits coming Sunday on the night she became the first Black woman to win the Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas.
She slayed a medley of her most popular songs ― including “Nasty” and “Throb” ― and gave a powerful speech that pledged solidarity to #MeToo while calling for an end to “loud and harsh” public discourse.
Bruno Mars introduced the 52-year-old pop star by noting the sociopolitical impact of her work and the sheer success of it ― she’s the first woman to record five straight No. 1 albums.
Then Jackson went to work on stage in reportedly her first televised performance since 2009.
The crowd chanted “Ja-net, Ja-net, Ja-net!” as she began her acceptance speech.
“I believe that for all the challenges, for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history,” she said. “It’s a moment when at long last women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us in heart and mind.
“This is also a moment when our public discourse is loud and harsh,” she added. “My prayer is that, weary of such noise, we turn back to the source of all calmness. That source — that source is God. Everything we lack, God has in abundance, compassion, sensitivity, patience and a boundless love.”
Stevie Wonder and Neil Diamond are among the previous Icon winners.