The Garbage frontwoman was announced as the recipient of the award earlier this month, with NME Editor-in-chief Mike Williams calling her a “fearless straight-talker that has influenced countless acts and millions of fans”.
The award was presented to Manson by Savages’ Jehnny Beth, who said: “The first time I spoke with Shirley Manson she said she said to me that she joined her first band at school simply for want of something better to do that summer.”
She continued: “And yet here we are now, looking at an incredibly long 35 year career in music. And years later, when she started afresh in a new country with a new band, Garbage, came an outpouring of song that meant international success and defined rock radio for an era, but beyond that Shirley herself defined an aesthetic, an attitude, for women and men who felt different about themselves in the world, and to this day opened the doors that are often kept slammed shut.”
She heaped praise upon the Garbage legend as “a woman with grace and strength through every stage of her life and career, and [who taught me] that I know that I can do and be whoever the fuck I want.”
In her acceptance speech, the newly-crowned Icon said: “In all seriousness, thank you so much. I am so thrilled to be here. I have been reading the NME and features in the NME since as far back as the mid-80s.
As well as thanking her band, managers and music journalists, Manson took the time to hail the strength of all women in the music industry and beyond.
“This has been an incredibly sad roll-out in some regards in the last 18 months,” said Manson. “I think we’re all shocked. Any decent person is shocked by the statistics surrounding not only the harassment that women face, not only the violence that we face, but the lack of representation that we enjoy in an industry.
“The fact that women at my level enjoy under seven per cent representation is unacceptable. I call upon any musician in this room to stand up and really call out festivals for not representing women, in particular women of colour, our black sisters. We need to make a change. It’s vital.”
Manson recently spoke to NME ahead of the ceremony, saying of the honour: “It’s mental and a total surprise. I think it’s funny, I don’t know if that’s the right response?”
Stay with us here to get all the latest news, videos, photos, and gossip from the ceremony, which will see Liam Gallagher receive the Godlike Genius award. He will also close the ceremony with a live performance.You can catch all the action on the Facebook Live stream on NME’s official Facebook page or here.
Going into tonight’s ceremony, Lorde and Charli XCX led the pack with four nominations each. They were closely followed by Dua Lipa and Kasabian, who both scored three nods apiece.
Stefflon Don and Skepta opened the ceremony tonight (February 14) at London’s O2 Academy Brixton with a performance of their collaboration, ‘Ding-a-Ling’. Alt-J have also treated the audience to a version of their track ‘In Cold Blood’.
Pale Waves, who are set to pick up the NME Under The Radar Award supported by HMV, will also perform later in the night. Grime crew Boy Better Know will also pick up the Innovation award.