Janet Jackson Performs, Receives Icon Award at BBMAs 2018

She’s in control! Janet Jackson performed two of her biggest hits before being honored with the Icon Award at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 20.

The music legend, 52, took the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for her first TV performance in nine years. Clad in a long gold shirt and matching boots, she ran through “Nasty” and “Throb” while impeccably mastering high-energy choreography.

Bruno Mars then presented Jackson with the coveted award, which was established in 2011 and handed out in previous years to performers such as Neil Diamond, Prince, Jennifer Lopez and Cher. She is the first black woman to receive the honor.

Janet Jackson Billboard Music Awards 2018
Janet Jackson performs onstage during the 2018 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“For all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history. It’s a moment when women have made it clear that we no longer will be controlled, manipulated or abused,” she said during her acceptance speech. “I stand with those women and those men equally outraged by discrimination. … I want to thank all of you for this honor. I thank God for giving me the precious energy that lets me live my life as an artist who every single day seeks to expand my capacity to love.”

Jackson’s appearance at the BBMAs came just days after the publication of her new Billboard cover story, in which she reflected upon the massive success of her four-decade career and her ongoing State of the World tour.

“The drive is in my DNA. I couldn’t lose it if I wanted to, and I don’t. Motivation is something I treasure,” she told the magazine. “Besides, for all its difficulties, this is the life I love. I’m surrounded with a team of dancers, singers and musicians I love. I’m supported by fans that have stuck by me through thick and thin. They mean the world to me. Now more than ever, performing, whether in the studio or on stage, brings me a satisfaction I find nowhere else.”

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