Billboard’s annual Women in Music Awards are meant to bring women in the music industry together, instead of doing what the Internet loves to do and pit them against one another. The result is always a memorable night, full of inspiration. Seeing our favorite ladies get the honors they rightly deserve is always a treat, but this year’s ceremony was extra touching, as Billboard honored new loves and pop culture mainstays.
Missy Elliott was honored with the Innovator Award after bumping back on to the scene with both a Super Bowl performance and a new single. In a touching speech, Elliott not only detailed her own struggles and successes, but thanked the performers who helped pave the way for her: “I want to thank all those women who came before me, and I don’t know if y’all know how important that is to me because they kicked down the door for me to be able to walk through.”
Both Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez also accepted awards, the Rulebreaker Award and the Charttopper Award, respectively. While Gomez gave a short and sweet speech on the transformative period in her life that resulted in Revival, Lovato talked a little bit more about her history of being a rule breaker: “Another thing that reminded me of the Rulebreaker award is when I was in the first grade, this boy named Antonio Wallace, he came up to me and he said ‘girls suck!’ and I was all hyped up on Spice World and stuff, so I punched him in the face and I said ‘girl power!’ Needless to say, [I’ve] kinda always been a rule breaker, even since the first grade.”
However, the icon of the night proved to be Lady Gaga, as she accepted her Woman of the Year Award from her mother. Before a harrowing performance of her latest single, “Til it Happens to You,” Gaga sat behind her piano and offered a simple, heartwarming piece of advice: “If you work really hard you can just do anything.”
Lady Gaga’s always been an awe-inspiring live performer, but this one is extraordinary. Watch the full video of Gaga accepting her award and performing below.