Janet Jackson Receives ICON Award at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards
By Brian Haas and Jennifer Drysdale
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Legendary pop singer Janet Jackson received the ICON Award at Sunday's Billboard Music Awards.
The award was started in 2011 as a way to recognize extraordinary contributions to music. Jackson, now 52, becomes only the seventh artist -- and first black woman -- to receive the award, joining Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion and Cher who preceeded her.
Jackson shared her excitement on Twitter, posting multiple thank-yous for the honor.
"Thank u all for sharing these special moments with me. #BBMAs #ICON_JANET," she posted, next to a gif of her performing.
Each ICON recipient also performs, and Jackson was no exception, performing her hits "Nasty" and "Throb" in her first performance on television in nearly a decade, before Bruno Mars -- in a surprise appearance -- presented her with the award.
"Thank you Bruno, thank you Billboard," she said as the crowd chanted "Janet." "I'm deeply humbled and grateful for this award."
"I believe that for all the challenges, we live in 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," Jackson said. "I stand with those women, and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us. This is also a moment when your public discourse is loud and harsh."
"My prayer is that weary of such noise, we turn back to the source of all calmness. That source.. that source is God. Everything we lack, God has in abundance: compassion, sensitivity, patience, and a boundless love," she continued. "So again, I want to thank all of you for this honor. And I thank God for giving me the precious energy that lets me live my life as an artist who seeks everyday to expand my capacity to love. Thank you so much."
Accompanying Jackson on stage were two new dancers, Lavala “Lala” Moss, 26, from Birmingham, Alabama, and Phillip Galbert, 28 from New Britain, Connecticut, whom Jackson selected to perform with her based on 30-second audition clips submitted in an online contest. More than 75,000 dancers auditioned for the opportunity.
This all comes just just days after Jackson's 52nd birthday and the 25-year anniversary of perhaps her greatest album, Janet. The album went platinum multiple times over, she won a GRAMMY for "That's the Way Love Goes" and it was voted the 58th greatest album of the '90s by Rolling Stone.