History was made at the Billboard Music Awards last night, when Janet Jackson became the first black woman to receive the Icon Award. Her extraordinary career, which included collaborations with Missy Elliott; her older brother Michael Jackson; and extensively, with Minneapolis’s Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, was recognized at the Las Vegas ceremony.
In her first televised live performance since 2009, she was introduced to the audience by Bruno Mars, who mentioned the 52-year-old’s accolades, following a moving montage of her life and career. Her medley featured a rendition of her 1986 hit “Nasty” fused with 1993’s “Throb” in a performance that had many other artists in the building singing along.
Following the performance, she gave a heartfelt acceptance speech: “I believe that for all the challenges, for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history. 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.”