Janet Jackson Makes Stand for #MeToo at BBMAs: 'We Will Not Be Controlled, Manipulated or Abused’
The Billboard Music Awards will broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, May 20 at 8pm ET / 5pm PT on NBC
It’s all for her!
Janet Jackson graced the Billboard Music Awards stage to receive the prestigious Icon Award on Sunday in Las Vegas. Not only was the moment her first television performance in nine years, but it was also the first time she has performed as a mom.
Bruno Mars surprised fans taking the stage to introduce Jackson. He rattled off her accolades and following a moving montage of her life and career — from the Jackson family’s humble beginnings in Gary, Indiana to her global chart-topping success— he ended his intro naming her “the first black woman to ever receive the Billboard Icon Award.”
Jackson hit the stage in a sparkling gold sweatshirt dress and shiny gold thigh-high shoes as she sang her 1986 hit “Nasty,” as her mother Katherine and other family members, including nephew Prince Michael, beamed from the audience. Jackson launched into her 1993 song “Throb”, everyone from Tyra Banks to Ciara couldn’t help but sing and dance along.
As for dancers, there were many! Those rocking the stage included Phillip Galbert, 28, of New Britain, Connecticut, and La’Vala “Lala” Moss, 26, of Birmingham, Alabama, who recently received the news that they’d been chosen out of 75,000 hopefuls as winners of Jackson’s global #DanceWithJanet competition. PEOPLE broke the news that not only did they get to join her JTribe, but they would be taking the stage to perform with her at the award show.
Check out PEOPLE’s full Billboard Music Awards coverage to get the latest news on music’s big night.
After the electrifying production, that left the audience chanting “Janet! Janet!” Jackson shared heartfelt words in her acceptance speech.
“I’m deeply humbled and grateful for this award. I believe that for all the challenges, all of our challenges, we live a great moment in history. It’s a moment that at long last women have made it clear that we will not be controlled, manipulated or abused.” Jackson, whose brother Randy opened up to PEOPLE in September about her painful divorce, told the audience, “I stand with those women and those men.”
RELATED: Watch Janet Jackson Surprise the Winners of Her Global Dance Competition
She continued with a message on faith. “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.”
Jackson, who has garnered a total of 18 BBMA nominations and 10 wins, joins a group of iconic winners including Neil Diamond (2011), Stevie Wonder (2012), Prince (2013), Jennifer Lopez (2014), Céline Dion (2016) and Cher (2017).
RELATED VIDEO: Jenna Dewan on Janet Jackson Receiving Icon Award at the BBMAs: She ‘Changed the Game for Dancers’
These past few days have been a celebratory time for Jackson, who celebrated her 52nd birthday on Wednesday. In addition, she has a busy summer to look forward to as she kicks off her upcoming headlining festival performances at ESSENCE Fest, Panorama and Outside Lands, as well as new dates added for her State of the World Tour.
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The Kelly Clarkson-hosted Billboard Music Awards will broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, May 20 at 8pm ET / 5pm PT on NBC.