Billboard Music Awards Producer Responds to Backlash After Choosing Madonna for Prince Tribute
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Although news of Madonna being the sole artist set to perform a tribute to Prince at the upcoming Billboard Music Awards resulted in much backlash, the show’s producer says he’s proud of his decision.

While some fans responded to the news with excitement, many were displeased, saying the tribute would be better performed by a collection of talented artists rather than just one. Others felt that a Black artist should have been selected instead and would do a better job with the tribute than Madonna. One group of naysayers even launched a petition to put a stop to Madonna as the main performer; the petition has garnered over 8,500 signatures as of Saturday morning.

Despite the negative response to the news, Billboard Music Awards executive producer Mark Bracco is standing by the decision and says he’s honored to have Madonna pay homage to Prince. “Listen, I think everybody is entitled to their opinion and everyone can have their own opinion, but I will say that we are honored and could not be more excited for Madonna to be on the show and to pay tribute to someone that was her friend and her peer and her colleague,” Bracco told The Associated Press. “I think it’s going to be fantastic.”

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Bracco also revealed that the idea first came to light when Madonna’s team reached out directly to inquire about Billboard’s plans for a tribute just ahead of the show. He reassured fans that the performance would be ‘intimate’ and ‘respectful.’ “It’s going to be very, very intimate and very respectful, and I think it’s something that is really going to pay tribute to Prince as the incredible, groundbreaking artist that he was and the influence that he had on music,” he said.

The Billboard Music Awards air this Sunday, May 22 at 8pm EDT on ABC.