Before taking to the stage, Bruno Mars introduced the star as “the youngest member of the Jackson family” and rattled off her numerous accolades, from being the only artist to have 18 consecutive Top 10 hits on the Hot 100 to being the first black woman to receive the Billboard Icon Award.
And after perfoming a vibrant and high-energy mix of “Nasty,” “If” and “Throb,” Jackson returned to address the arena. “Thank you Bruno, thank you Billboard…” she started, before having to pause due to the overhwelming “Janet” chant that had erupted.
“I’m deeply humbled and grateful for this award,” she continued. “I believe for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment 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 who support us in heart and mind. This is also a moment when our public discourse is loud and harsh.”
Jackson ended her speech by thanking God, and telling fans that “everything we lack, God has in abundance.”