“I’m proud to be here tonight to present the 2016 Ardy ‘Hero’ Award to not only someone I work with, recorded with, who I know, and what my brother, Blake Shelton, knows, truly has a heart of gold,” Pharrell Williams said as he introduced Stefani, 46, and encouraged the audience to stand up for an ovation.
She had some thoughts of her own about all that: “Let’s get something straight. This [Williams] is my hero, right here, one of my biggest heroes is this guy! I love you so much!”
As someone who grew up next to Disneyland, Stefani said the whole moment was “surreal.” And she hadn’t prepared a speech, she said – the better to be in this moment with everyone else cheering her on.
“This is crazy that this is happening to me! I never thought, I mean who am I, that I would ever make a difference?” Stefani said.
“I am so honored to be here, I am so honored to be making music,” she said. “I am so blessed to be making music that I can share with you and that I can receive your love back. I am so healed by you!”
First among the audience cheering her on was Shelton, 39, who has been Stefani’s “biggest blessing,” a source close to her told PEOPLE in March (even though her now-finalized divorce from Gavin Rossdale is “still painful,” she said in April).
“They seem too perfect for each other for it to just be fluke,” the Stefani source said in March, of the couple and musical collaborators.
“For now, they seem happy with their relationship, but Blake is old-fashioned and a future engagement seems very possible.”
A the start of the night, Stefani walked the red carpet in a colorful dress, patterned in strokes of blue, yellow, white and red.
And she brought her niece Stella (in Stefani-esque cowboy boots, to boot).
The Radio Disney Music Awards will air Sunday (7 p.m. ET) on the Disney Channel.
• Reporting by REAGAN ALEXANDER