The 50th anniversary of the American Music Awards aired live on Sunday (Nov. 20) from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on ABC. Hosted by Wayne Brady, this year’s ceremony featured performances from Ari Lennox, Stevie Wonder, Muni Long, and more; in addition to the legendary Lionel Ritchie being honored with the Icon Award for the invaluable contributions he made to the entertainment industry during his 50-year career.
D-Nice – who rose to prominence in 2020 with his interactive sets during the pandemic – served as the DJ for the evening. After formally introducing himself for the first time, the New York native prompted Brady to highlight his heralded improvisational skills by utilizing input from the audience to create lyrics for a freestyle. The people who gave him words included country star Jimmy Allen, Niecy Nash, and more. The former Who’s Line Is It Anyway? star’s impromptu rap session was followed by performances from JID, Lil Baby, and a duet from GloRilla and Cardi B titled “Tomorrow 2.”
Shortly after 10:30 PM, Smokey Robinson presented singer, songwriter, and producer Lionel Ritchie with the Icon Award. The Miracles front man gave the crowd a little bit of nostalgia, saying that he was the first ever host of the AMAs in February of 1974. In an emotional speech, Ritchie touched upon the importance of young artists leaving a positive legacy with their music. “God has given you a light – that light is special, that light is only given to a few,” he said.” When you hear the word “hip” that means today; when you hear the word “inspiring” that means forever.”
“When you get a light that shines on you, understand what God has in store,” the four-time Grammy winner added. “He’s not trying to tell you that your car looks great, or your clothes look great. He/she is trying to tell you that you are chosen to inspire.”
Stevie Wonder and Charlie Puth led the Lionel Ritchie tribute, as the two went back and forth on their pianos, singing hits from Ritchie’s decades-long tenure as a professional musician. The night culminated with an emotional performance of 1986’s “We Are The World,” which showcased the talents of Wonder, Robinson, Ari Lennox, Muni Long, and several others.
Take a look at some of the biggest moments during the 2022 American Music Awards.