Mary J. Blige received the coveted Billboard Icon Award during Sunday’s 2022 Billboard Music Awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
She was presented with the award by 2018 winner and singer, Janet Jackson.
After calling Jackson, 56, one of her “biggest inspirations growing up,” Blige, 54, said that becoming a legend “takes a lot of time, hard work and a lot of surviving trial and error to achieve greatness.”
“What an icon means to me is overcoming obstacles to accomplish the unthinkable and be widely admired for having influence over a multitude of people, and that is what I’ve always represented,” the nine-time Grammy Award winner said.
Later in her speech, Blige joked “I was ghetto fabulous, and I still am,” adding: “So ghetto, so fabulous, and people were threatened by that.”
“The message in my music has always been that we are not alone in our struggles. And I’m not alone now,” she added. “For so long, I was searching for a real love, but I finally found my real love. And that real love is me.”
This award show marks Blige’s eleventh Billboard Music Award win, following a 1995 album of the year win for My Life and nine trophies earned during her The Breakthrough album era in 2006.
Ahead of the honor, she expressed gratitude for earning the esteemed award.
“My career has been such an incredible and unexpected journey that has included many turns into avenues I never could have imagined like acting, producing, launching businesses and now even my own music festival,” she said in a statement.
She continued, “Through it all, I always one way or another gravitated back to my first love, music. To be recognized in this way at this moment, with the Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards, is an incredible honor and one that I am truly humbled by.”