Inspiration Report

JanetJacksonUnbreakableTourSanFran2015Janet Jackson made history on Sunday, May 20, 2018, when she became the first black woman to win the Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. Jackson owned the stage with her performances of a number of her hit songs. Among them were “Nasty” and “If.” She was preceded by a video introduction that touched on the social and political importance of her work, especially her albums “Control” and “Rhythm Nation 1814.”

Jackson stepped up to give her acceptance speech. Before she could get more than a few words out, however, her soft spoken words were drowned out by the audience ecstatically chanting “Janet! Janet! Janet!” When the cheers and applause had finally died down, Jackson began her speech. She expressed her thanks for the award and declared that “for all the challenges, for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history.” Jackson went on to proclaim her solidarity with the #MeToo movement by stating that this was a time when “at long last, women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us in heart and mind.”

After the reference to #MeToo, Jackson’s speech took a slightly unexpected turn. “This is also a moment when our public discourse is loud and harsh,” she said. “My prayer is that, weary of such noise, we turn back to the source of all calmness. That source, that source is God. Everything we lack, God has in abundance: compassion, sensitivity, patience and a boundless love.”

Jackson’s speech took a few minutes to complete as she was repeatedly interrupted by the audience applauding and cheering her words. Once she did finish, however, she had taken her place beside such legends as Stevie Wonder and Neil Diamond as an Icon award winner.

The 52 year old was far from the only star who made an impression at the Billboard Music Awards. The Chainsmokers and Halsey spoke out about mental health, and Kelly Clarkson brought the audience nearly to tears when she spoke about the recent school shooting in Santa Fe. “I’m so sick of moments of silence,” Clarkson said in reference to a request that she lead a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims. “It’s not working…Why don’t we do a moment of action? Why don’t we do a moment of change? Why don’t we change what’s happening?”

Despite the many causes on display, it was Jackson’s heartfelt words that stayed with many people the longest as she gave thanks to God in the closing words of her speech. “I thank God for giving me the precious energy that lets me live my life as an artist that every single day seeks to expand my capacity to love.” Powerful words from an artist with an awful lot of star power.

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