The Yonkers native Declares Her “Real Love Is Me” During Billboard Music Awards Icon Acceptance Speech
Mary J. Blige received the Icon Award at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, May 15th. From around the way girl from Yonkers Schlobohm Housing Projects to the undisputed Queen of Hip-Hop Soul to an inspiration for generations, Billboard Magazine honors MJB with the Icon Awards. In Yonkers and Westchester County she has always been an icon. She has been the voice of the hood, soundtrack for generations of sistahs going through it and has created a body of work that surpasses time.
To receive the award and be introduced by another undisputed Icon, Janet, ‘Ms. Jackson is your nasty,’ only makes even more official. “You were always one of our biggest inspirations growing up,” Blige told her.
Yes, Janet Jackson made a surprise and rare TV appearance at the Billboard Music Awards 2022 Sunday night to present Mary J. Blige with the Icon Award. The “Velvet Rope” singer, who is one of the world’s best-selling music artists, won the award in 2001, introduced Blige after she received her own standing ovation with a speech that referenced many of her biggest hits, including “Just Fine” and “No More Drama.”
“Her work has always given us comfort because she sings me, she sings you. I reminisce, but I’m not going to cry because even though sometime sit feels like every day it rains, I’ve got no more drama,” Jackson, 56, said. “I’m just fine with my life, my life, my life, my life in the sunshine.”
Mary took the stage to deliver an emotional speech in which she held back tears while thanking her family and celebrity pals and including BBMA host Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, the late Andre Harrell, Jeff Redd as well as Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine for selecting her to perform at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show.
Blige explained what it truly means to be an icon and the journey to “achieve greatness.”
“The way the world is now, I think people think icons are born that way, that they become a legend overnight,” Blige began. “But that is definitely not the case. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and a lot of surviving trial and error to achieve greatness. Being an icon to me means is 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 continued. “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.”
“I’m so grateful to have you,” the 10-time BBMA winner said to her “phenomenal, diehard, unbelievable fans.” at the conclusion of her speech.
The R&B legend is the 11th artist and seventh woman to receive the honor, which recognizes artists who have achieved excellence on the Billboard charts and have made an indelible mark on music. Previous Icon Award recipients include Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Cher, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Garth Brooks and Pink.
According to Billboard, Blige has accumulated four No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 (Share My World, Love & Life, The Breakthrough and Growing Pains) and a No. 1 single (“Family Affair”) on the Billboard Hot 100.