Grammy Award-winning singer Mary J. Blige was awarded the Icon Award at the 2022 Billboard Awards and credited God with helping her channel her life’s pain into her music. Blige, known as the “queen of hip-hop soul” in the music industry, was presented the high honor by Janet Jackson. Jackson said, “Mary J. Blige represents the truth,” before handing her the award. “Her work has always given us comfort because it represents me, and it represents you,” Jackson said.

Dressed in a revealing gown, Blige was escorted by Sean “Diddy” Combs to the MGM Grand Arena stage in Las Vegas to give her acceptance speech. “I’m in a dream right now. Thank you so much,” Blige declared at the top of her acceptance speech. “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,” the New York native explained. “It takes a lot of time, hard work, and a lot of surviving trial and error to achieve greatness.”

Blige defined an icon as someone who overcomes “obstacles to accomplish the unthinkable.” She continued: “I’ve been on this journey for a long time, one that didn’t always look the way you see me now, one that is filled with a lot of heartache and pain. God helped me to channel those emotions and experiences into my music.”

mary j blige
YouTube: Screenshot/NBC

“The message of my music has always been that we are not alone in our struggles. And I’m not alone now,” Blige said. “For so long, I was searching for a real love, but I finally found my real love, and that real love is me.” Blige ended her speech by thanking several people in her life, starting with a testimony to God. “There’s no ‘I’ in team. So I want to thank everyone on my team for helping me,” she said.

“First up, my Almighty, My everything, my source, God,” she declared. “Because without His love and protection and guidance, there’s none of this!” In 2020, Blige highlighted her faith when she teamed up with Queen Latifah and Missy Eliot to produce Lifetime’s TV movie “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel,” based on the lives of the legendary singing siblings.

At a news conference for the film, Blige spoke of the impact the sisters (Jacky Cullum Chisholm, Denise “Niecy” Clark Bradford, Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark, Dorinda Clark-Cole, and Karen Clark Sheard) had on her life. “I’ve learned so much from them. They just have the anointing,” Blige said. The icon award marked Blige’s 11th Billboard Music Award. In 1995, she was given the album of the year award for My Life. She garnered nine trophies in 2006 for her The Breakthrough album.

Ahead of winning this year’s Billboard honor, Blige shared her gratitude in a statement shared by People. “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,” Blige said.

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