Wednesday night, Mariah Carey was honored with the prestigious icon award at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The R&B legend took the stage to perform a medley of hits — including “A No No,” “Always Be My Baby,” “Emotions,” “We Belong Together” and “Hero” — before Jennifer Hudson presented her with her award. In her emotional acceptance speech, Carey thanked her fans, as well as her kids, 8-year-old twins Moroccon and Monroe, wishing them a happy birthday.
“Thank you so much for this gorgeous award … I’m so nervous. Thank you, Billboard, for letting me grow up on the charts with you and for this incredible honor,” Carey said. “Icon? I really don’t think of myself in that way. I started making music out of a necessity to survive and to express myself and I just wanted to create something so I could feel worthy of existing, and if I’ve learned anything — anything at all in this life — it’s that truly all things are possible with God.”
Carey added: “Without getting into all the drama, all the ups and downs of my career … we’ve all seen them. We all make mistakes. There’s been a few memes. I guess I just always felt like an outsider. Someone who doesn’t quite belong anywhere and I still feel like that lost interracial child who had a lot of nerve to believe I could succeed at anything at all in this world, but I did believe because I had to. I dedicated my life to my music, my saving grace.”
The pop star continued: “And to my fans who are unlike any other entity that I’ve ever known, they’ve lifted me out of the depths of hell and brought me back with their devotion and love.”
In conclusion, Carey said: “I want to thank all the people who’ve’ been with me on this journey; through the highs and lows, through your struggles and mine. And to anybody who doesn’t allow themselves to be broken and keeps getting up and keeps holding on and keeps standing tall and keeps on believing and keeps rising. I celebrate you tonight. And to anyone who has ever told me that a song I wrote helped save your life I thank you because you saved mine and I’ll be eternally grateful.”
Carey is only the eighth artist to ever receive the icon award at the Billboard Music Awards, following: Neil Diamond (2011), Stevie Wonder (2012), Prince (2013), Jennifer Lopez (2014), Céline Dion (2016), Cher (2017) and Janet Jackson (2018).
With 18 No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, Carey — who released of her fifteenth studio album Caution last year — holds the record for the most of any solo artist in history. Other impressive accolades include being the only artist to top the chart in every year of any decade during the 1990s, the longest Hot 100 run of any artist in history (79 total weeks) and six No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
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