Mary J. Blige collected the Icon Award at tonight’s (May 15) Billboard Music Awards 2022 in Las Vegas.
The star was presented the trophy by last year’s winner of the same category, Janet Jackson, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Jackson introduced Blige by saying she “represents truth – her work has always given us comfort because she sings me, she sings you”. “Mary has made a commitment to her fans to always be her authentic self,” she added.
After a VT played paying tribute to the star, featuring appearances from Taraji P. Henson, Queen Latifah and Gabrielle Union, Blige went up to the stage to collect the award. “Look, I’m in a dream right now,” she told the crowd.
She then continued to reflect on what an icon means to her. “[It’s] overcoming obstacles to accomplish the unthinkable and be widely admired for having influence over a multitude of people and that is what I always represented,” she explained.
“I’ve been on this journey for a long time, one that didn’t always look the way you see me now, one that is filled with a lot of heartache and pain but God helped me to channel those experiences and emotions in my music which is where I started in music.”
The Icon Award recipient looked back on her story, saying that “every inner-city girl was recognised in their own and could relate to everything I was saying” in her early music. She added that “every female artist that came into the game” was inspired by her work and said: “I was ghetto fabulous and I still am – so ghetto, so fabulous and people were threatened by that. And now everybody want to be ghetto fabulous.”
She continued to talk about the “message of my music”, which she described as always having been “that we are not alone in our struggles”. “And I’m not alone now,” she said. “For so long I was searching for a real love but I finally found my real love and that real love is me. Who’s managing Mary J. Blige now? Me.”
The majority of the awards at the Billboard Music Awards 2022 were handed out during a pre-show livestream on TikTok. Going into the ceremony, Olivia Rodrigo and Kanye West lead the winners with six awards each.
The Weeknd had the most nominations at the BBMAs 2022 with 17 nods, with Doja Cat following behind on 14. She has picked up the first award of the main ceremony, taking home the trophy for Top R&B Artist.
Diddy opened the awards show with the help of Bryson Tiller, Jack Harlow and Teyana Taylor, before Silk Sonic brought a cover of Con Funk Shun’s ‘Love’s Train’ to Vegas. Latto also made her debut appearance at the awards ceremony, with a performance of ‘Big Energy’.
Other performances tonight will come from the likes of Machine Gun Kelly, Florence + The Machine, Ed Sheeran and more. Morgan Wallen’s performance was quickly criticised by viewers as “tone deaf”, with him taking to the stage shortly after messages about social justice and anti-racism. Travis Scott also made his first major public appearance since the Astroworld tragedy last year.