Mary J. Blige will receive the Icon Award at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards. The 10-time BBMA winner will also perform on the show. The BBMAs will broadcast live coast-to-coast from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, May 15.
Blige is the 11th artist to receive the Icon Award, which recognizes outstanding artists who have achieved excellence on the Billboard charts and have made an indelible mark on music itself. Previous recipients have been Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Cher, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Garth Brooks, and P!NK.
“My career has been such an incredible and unexpected journey that has included many turns into avenues I never could have imagined like acting, producing, launching businesses and now even my own music festival,” Blige said in a statement. “Through it all, I always one way or another gravitated back to my first love, music. To be recognized in this way at this moment, with the Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards, is an incredible honor and one that I am truly humbled by.”
Blige won the 1995 Billboard Music Award for R&B album of the year and scooped up nine awards at the 2006 show.
Blige has won nine Grammys. In 2017, she became the first person in Oscar history to be nominated for acting and songwriting in the same year, for her work in Mudbound. Blige is likely to receive her first Emmy nomination this year for her participation in the all-star Super Bowl Halftime Show in February alongside Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. (They would be nominated in the category of outstanding variety special (live).)
Blige has amassed four No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 (Share My World, Love & Life, The Breakthrough and Growing Pains) and one No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 (“Family Affair,” which topped the chart for six weeks in 2001). She is the seventh woman to receive the Icon Award. The first three recipients were male, but since then, Brooks is the only male honoree.
At 51, Blige is right in the age range of past Icon Award recipients. Last year’s winner, P!nk, was the youngest recipient to date at 41. Diamond are Cher are the oldest recipients to date. They were each 70 when they received the honor.
All of the previous Icon Award recipients also performed on the show, as Blige has agreed to do. Wonder performed a medley with Alicia Keys. Dion was backed in performance by Lindsey Stirling.
Blige received a lifetime achievement award at the BET Awards in 2019 and received the icon of the year award at the Billboard Women in Music event in 2017. But other top career honors, such as a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy, are still (likely) in her future.
The Weeknd is the top contender for the 2022 Billboard Music Awards. He is a finalist in 17 categories, including top artist, top male artist and top Hot 100 artist. His collaboration with Ariana Grande, “Save Your Tears (Remix),” is up for six awards.
Doja Cat is the leading female finalist with 14 nods, including top artist, top female artist and top Hot 100 artist. Justin Bieber, Ye (formerly Kanye West) and Olivia Rodrigo each have 13 nods.