Mary J. Blige, an indispensable voice in the history of R&B and hip-hop and a 10-time Billboard Music Award winner, was presented with the Icon Award at the 2022 BBMAs on Sunday night (May 15). Bestowed with the honor by former Icon Award recipient Janet Jackson, Blige brought the house down at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, earning ovations before, during and after an acceptance speech that touched upon her prolonged rise and emotional honesty.
“Mary J. Blige represents truth,” Jackson told the arena while describing Blige as an indisputable icon. “Her work has always given us comfort because she sings me, she sings you.” Artists such as Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott and H.E.R. also congratulated Blige in a taped montage before the Icon took the stage.
Blige, now over 30 years into her illustrious career, spoke about the hard work and trial and error that helped her steadily rise. “The way the world is now, I think people think icons are born that way,” she said. “They become a legend overnight. But that’s definitely not the case.”
The icon waxed poetic about how, through personal pain and heartache, “God helped me to channel those emotions and experiences into my music.” Blige also discussed her come-up amidst a hip-hop scene that was still being too widely dismissed by the mainstream. “I was ghetto fabulous, and I still am,” Blige declared to wild applause. “And people were threatened by that. And now everyone wants to be ghetto fabulous.”
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SOURCE: Billboard, Jason Lipshutz