Janet Jackson showed up to Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards ready to perform like the icon that she is.
Mounting her first televised performance in nearly a decade, the 52-year-old took the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for a towering performance that spanned multiple decades of her illustrious career, including choreography-heavy renditions of time-tested single “Nasty” and the club hit “Throb” with splashes of “If” thrown in for good measure.
Following her performance, Bruno Mars presented Jackson with the 2018 Billboard Icon Award, which is bestowed to artists with momentous contributions to music and pop culture. Jackson’s claiming of the prize aligns her with past recipients like Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Céline Dion, Cher, Stevie Wonder, and inaugural recipient Neil Diamond, who took the honor in 2011.
“I’m deeply humbled and grateful for this award. I believe that for all of our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history,” Jackson said during her acceptance speech. “It’s a moment 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,” she continued, seemingly referencing recent high profile expositions of sexual assault in the entertainment industry and beyond. “This is also a moment when our public discourse is loud and harsh. 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,
She went on to note that God’s “compassion, sensitivity, patience,” and “boundless love” are qualities humanity currently lacks.
“So 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 single day seeks to expand my capacity to love,” she concluded.
Sunday’s event marked the first time Jackson has given a televised performance since the 2009 American Music Awards, where she sang a roaring medley of her hits.
Since launching her solo career in 1982, Jackson has amassed 18 Billboard Music Award nominations, taking home 10 trophies overall. She is currently on the road with her State of the World Tour, which concludes Aug. 12 in San Francisco.
Watch Jackson’s full 2018 Billboard Music Awards acceptance speech above.