2018 ESSENCE Festival headliner, Janet Jackson, had us all in our living rooms dancing with what was undoubtedly the most epic performance of the night during Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards.
A notable introduction from Bruno Mars, who declared that “the last name Jackson represents undeniable, artistic, genius,” was followed by a video montage highlighting Janet’s 35-year career in entertainment. During the footage, Janet credited her father with wanting a better life for their family and seeing music as their way out of the rough Gary, Indiana neighborhood they called home.
Following the video and just days after celebrating her 52nd birthday, the entertainment icon was glowing as she hit the stage in a gold ensemble, long ponytail and simple make up with her band of dancers. The audience remained on their feet from start to finish as Janet ran through a quick medley of some of her biggest songs, including “Nasty,” “If” and “Throb.”
Immediately following the performance, the proud honoree shared brief, but timely, words as she walked to the mic to accept her 2018 Billboard Icon Award. She began her speech with a nod to feminism and the uprising of women around the globe who continue to stand strong in the fight for equality.
“This is a moment when, at long last, women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated, or abused,” she said.
Halfway through her speech, she was met with cheers from the audience, who chanted her name repeatedly as she paused to take in the appreciation, before closing out the moment by thanking God for allowing her to do what she loves.
“Everything we lack, God has in abundance,” she added.
Janet’s mother, Katherine Jackson and older sister Reebie Jackson, were in the audience for her big night, which makes her the first Black woman to ever receive the coveted Billboard Icon award.
Be sure to grab your tickets to see Janet headlining the 2018 ESSENCE Festival this summer on Sunday, July 8 in New Orleans.