GRAPHIC BY YING YANG
By CHARIS QI
In the history of entertainment, there are rarely moments when female artists are honored for their remarkable achievements.
That is, except for the annual Billboard Women in Music Awards. The awards show, which brings together many female artists from all age groups and races, started in 2007 and has since named ten Woman of the Year recipients, including Reba McEntire, Ciara, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Madonna and most recently, Selena Gomez.
This year’s Woman of the Year Awards featured many performances from notable female artists, powerful and moving speeches and inspiring dedications that altogether sent out an optimistic message for female empowerment.
Performing artists included Kelly Clarkson, Grace VanderWaal, Kehlani and Camila Cabello. Appearances from these influential female artists showed the immensity of female presence in the music industry.
Moreover, these appearances signify an end to a male-dominated industry. Not only are there many male artists, the majority of music producers, composers, lyricists, and arrangers are male. The awards show illustrated that women are stepping up to the positions that were once only held by mean. Most importantly, women are beginning to receive the recognition they truly deserve.
Although performances by noteworthy artists demonstrated major female talent, no other event better epitomized the fight for gender equality than the speeches.
For instance, after receiving her Powerhouse Award, Clarkson stated in her acceptance speech, “Once women really start respecting each other as women, then men will.” Clarkson’s impactful quote called to action the people who have the power to change the most: women themselves.
Female leaders in the music industry such as Atlantic Records Chief Operating Officer (COO) and chairman Julie Greenwald also appeared. In her acceptance speech for Executive of the Year, Greenwald encouraged women to “raise up a new generation of female leaders.” Her statement resonated strongly within the female audience, sending forth the message that female leadership is bound to increase in the future.
Additionally, Gomez’s tearful acceptance speech deeply reflected the hard year that the singer has had. Despite her kidney transplant and all the media attention on her private relationships, she still managed to release four singles and prepare for an upcoming album. In her speech, Gomez passionately extended her gratitude to her best friend and kidney donor, Francia Raisa, for supporting her through hard times. Gomez also thanked many older women for inspiring younger generations to pursue music.
Another aspect of the night was the dedication. These accomplished women and their recognition of female stars in the entertainment industry illustrated the strongest message of women empowerment, which is unity.
Like Gomez, many other women at the ceremony showed their appreciation for fellow female artists and stars. Singer Grace VanderWaal dedicated her Rising Star Award to her parents and fans, while Francia Raisa recognized Gomez as a source of inspiration. Actress Taraji P. Henson praised Mary J. Blige for her musical achievements, and Camila Cabello credited all her success as an artist to her mother. These dedications encouraged women to empower each other and acknowledge the significance of female presence in music.
Ultimately, the Billboard Women in Music Awards is a unique ceremony that honored, honors, and will honor many female artists in the future.