On Thursday, Missy Elliott accepted the 2018 ESSENCE Black Women in Music Visionary Award at New York City’s Highline Ballroom just days before the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.
The event, which is in its’ 9th year, was presented in partnership with The Recording Academy and sponsored by Lincoln Motor Company and AT&T.
Close friend and fellow music icon Janet Jackson presented Missy with her award and gave a heartwarming speech about their bond. As fellow trailblazers in music, it was beautiful to witness the two women celebrate each other and all the women attending the event. Elliott also touched on their friendship, noting that even in the dead of night, she can call the Control singer.
“I’ve known Janet over a decade,” Missy said. “This is not just a business… someone I do music with. I can call Janet at the dead of night…and she will listen.”
Adding, “She always has this soft soothing voice and the times I felt like giving up so always gave me an encouraging word and I watched her as strong, Black, powerful women who’s had to overcome many obstacles. So I just want to say I appreciate you for inspiring me — and I’m quite sure — everyone in here.”
Speaking to fans, media, music insiders and close industry friends (including Misa Hylton, June Ambrose and Mona Scott-Young), Elliott gave an emotional speech about her journey to success. The 46-year-old discussed her health, overcoming discouraging moments and her support system of Black women.
“I want all of you women in here to know that you’re beautiful,” Elliott said. “You gotta believe in yourself. Because there are going to be times that people tell you [that] you can’t do it or you don’t look the part. But I am a walking testimony.”
“I did a record and someone replaced me who was more of the look,” Elliott began. “That discouraged me. I was dropped, that discouraged me. But we don’t control timing.”
“Don’t let me start preaching here, ’cause everybody don’t believe in God, but I’m going to walk in testimony. I may offend some people but the God I serve is powerful. And if he wasn’t, I wouldn’t be standing here today. I was sick and I couldn’t even lift a pin. My nervous system had broken all the way down. I didn’t come out here in a wheelchair. Nobody helped me get up here. I walked here — but it was through the grace of God. That’s a whole ‘nother ballgame.”
She went on to talk about how she looks back on her obstacles.
“But I say that because even them replacing me with someone they deemed to be more beautiful or the look, it didn’t stop me. Because I knew that I was gifted and I knew there was an anointing.”
“I want all of you women, to know that you are beautiful…We can get the weave, but these lace fronts are taking off our edges anyway. When they strip all of that you gotta know that you’re beautiful and enough because there are going to be times that people [think] you can’t do it or you don’t look the part. I’m a walking testimony, I stand here today.”
Ending on a funny note she said, “Don’t get it twisted, I know I sang ‘Minute Man’ and ‘Pussy Don’t Fail Me Now,’ so I know they get you confused. But I got church in me.”