She's already an icon in the eyes of her fans, but on Sunday the Billboard Music Awards made it official — presenting Cher with its annual ICON award

By Dave Quinn
May 21, 2017 11:00 PM

She’s already an icon in the eyes of her fans, but on Sunday the Billboard Music Awards made it official — presenting Cher with its annual ICON Award.

The singer, who celebrated her 71st birthday on Saturday, took the stage at the Las Vegas T-Mobile Arena, giving an epic performance of two of her classics. First, decked in a crystal bodysuit with pink, heart-shaped pasties, she performed “Believe”; then, after a video montage of her legendary career, she sang “If I Could Turn Back Time” in her signature black wig, fishnets and leather jacket.

Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty

The performance marked the first time Cher has performed on an awards show in 15 years.

After a rousing introduction by Gwen Stefani, Cher accepted her award and gave an emotional speech.

Credit: John Shearer/BBMA2017/Getty Images for dcp

“Thank you. So, I wanted to do what I do since I was 4 years old, and I’ve been doing it for 53 years. That is not an applause thing; I’m 71 yesterday!” she told the crowd, which included Blake Shelton, Sean “Diddy” Combs and son Chaz Bono. “I want to thank my mom because when I was really young, my mom said, ‘You’re not gonna be the smartest, you’re not gonna be the prettiest, you’re not gonna be the most talented, but you’re gonna be special.’ … I’ve had so much help. I just have to say that I think that luck has so much to do with my success — I think it was mostly luck and a little bit of something thrown in.”

Over the course of her five-decade career, the star has racked up plenty of honors — including an Oscar, a Grammy, an Emmy, three Golden Globes and three Billboard Awards (excluding her ICON win).

With more than 100 million albums sold worldwide and 22 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, Cher’s also the first artist to have a No. 1 single on a Billboard chart in each decade — from the ’60s to the ’10s.

Turning back time to perform “Believe” on Sunday was significant for Cher, too. The song is her biggest hit — having spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, selling 20 million copies worldwide to date.

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Billboard’s ICON Award — introduced in 2011 — has been previously presented to Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Prince, and Jennifer Lopez. Last year’s winner was Céline Dion, who performed again this year.

“I’m honored to receive the 2017 Billboard Music Awards ICON Award and take the stage to celebrate my love of music with my fans,” Cher said in a statement before the awards show. “Seeing so many powerful artists — especially female artists — emerge and take their place in history through the years has been incredible. I’m honored to be amongst the previous ICON Award winners and to celebrate this milestone achievement by performing ‘Believe’ on the show.”

Cher is currently enjoying her Las Vegas residency show, Classic Cher, which began in February.

The 2017 Billboard Music Awards, hosted by Vanessa Hudgens and Ludacris, are airing live on ABC.