Singer, songwriter, dancer, actress, and all-around icon, Janet Jackson is more than the youngest member of one of the world’s most famous families. In her own right, she’s a bonafide superstar. It’s no surprise that she’s the recipient of this year’s Billboard Icon Award. She’s also the first black woman to receive the honor. Internationally known for her socially conscious and provocative material, as well as her elaborate stage shows, the Gary Indiana native, continues to be one of the world’s most prominent figures in music and popular culture as a whole.
Introduced by Bruno Mars, Jackson took the Las Vegas MGM Grand stage dressed in a gold ensemble, and exploded into her hit “Nasty” from her 1986 blockbuster album Control. Immediately after, as her mother Katherine and older sister Rebbie looked on from the audience, she morphed into an impromptu version of her 1993 hits “Throb” and “If” before closing her performance. During her acceptance speech, Jackson spoke from the heart, while saying, “Our public discourse is loud and harsh. My prayer is that weary of such noise, we will turn back to the source of all calmness, that source is God. Everything we lack, God has in abundance: compassion, sensitivity, patience and boundless love. 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 every day seeks to expand my capacity to love.” A true icon indeed.