Billboard “Women in Music Awards”: Solange Makes an “Impact,” Kehlani Performs, Mary J. Blige is Iconic, Ciara, More

The annual Billboard “Women in Music Awards” went down last night (Nov. 30th) at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Los Angeles — The event honors the most powerful female artists and executives in the industry.

Solange Knowles received the first-ever American Express Impact Award, which recognizes a musician who noticeably uses their voice to empower and develop new leaders of tomorrow through their platform and philanthropic efforts to inspire social change.

From her critically acclaimed album, A Seat at the Table, to performing for President Obama at the White House to giving a keynote speech at Yale University, Solange has invoked themes of identity, empowerment, grief, and healing that have resonated with millions of voices that routinely feel silenced or overlooked.

“I have so much gratitude in my soul for how the way my work connected with people,” she said in regards to her celebrated project A Seat at the Table. “When I think about the word impact, I can’t think of a more humbling way to articulate the mark that I would have liked to leave on the world with this work.”

Selena Gomez received the “Women of the Year” honor, and she broke out in tears while giving her acceptance speech. The award was presented by Elle Fanning and her best friend, actress Francia Raisa, who donated a kidney to Selena over the summer.

“To be honest, I think Francia should be getting this award because she saved my life,” she said, before her voice broke and she began crying.

“Honestly, I couldn’t be more grateful for the position that I’ve been given in my career from seven to 14 to now,” she continued. “I want people to know that I respect the platform that I have so deeply because I knew that I wanted to be a part of something great and I wanted people to feel great because I love people.”

“I’ve never felt more proud to be a woman in this industry than I do today and that’s because I feel actually comfortable with every single woman that has encouraged me,” she said. “I am so grateful for all the older women who have lifted all of us up because I couldn’t be here without any of you. Thank you to all of you who have inspired so many girls who don’t feel like they have a voice. I’m very, very lucky. I love you guys.”

R&B singer Kehlani, who won the “Rule Breaker Award,” performed her single “Honey” during the event. Backed by a female acoustic guitar player, the soulful songstress, who is not a lesbian, delivered emotionally-rich vocals about her special lady.

Mary J. Blige received the icon award and vowed to continue the good fight for every woman. She called the award “a huge responsibility.”

She added, “When people look up to me, I want them to see my life and have it reflect theirs and understand that if I can make it through everything that I’ve made it through and still making it through, you can do it as well.”

Singer/actress/model Ciara opened the show with a powerful message for women.

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