At the Billboard Music Awards tonight (May 15), Janet Jackson presented Mary J. Blige with the Icon Award. Jackson, who won the same award in 2018, explained why Blige was overqualified for the honor during her introductory speech, saying, “Mary has made a commitment to her fans to always be her authentic self. Now that’s real love.” Watch a replay below.
During her acceptance speech, Mary J. Blige thanked her fans, Diddy, 50 Cent, and Dr. Dre for inviting her to perform at the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show. She seemed particularly moved by getting to receive the trophy from Jackson in particular. “Well I’m in a dream right now. Janet Jackson, y’all. Speaking of icons, you were always one of our biggest inspirations growing up,” said Blige. “The way the world is now, I think people think icons are born that way, they become a legend overnight, but that is definitely not the case. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and 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.”
In February, Blige released her new album Good Morning Gorgeous, the follow-up to her 2017 LP Strength of a Woman. In addition to the Super Bowl Halftime Show, Blige also performed at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest earlier this year. In 2021, she was nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Earlier this year, Janet Jackson’s two-part, career-spanning Lifetime documentary Janet finally came out. Afterwards, she revealed that she advised Justin Timberlake to stay silent about their infamous Super Bowl incident and discussed other details during an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
See where Blige’s hit “Real Love” lands on Pitchfork’s list “The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s.”