Mariah Carey received one of the Billboard Music Awards’ highest honors tonight, the Icon Award. The singer made a heartfelt acceptance speech after she finished performing a medley of her hit songs. In it, Carey reflected on the highs and lows of her career and thanked her fans above all for their unconditional support.
Taylor Swift was visibly moved by her words.
Carey’s 8-year-old twins Moroccan and Monroe were in the audience. After asking the crowd to wish them a happy birthday and joking that the award would look fabulous in her New York apartment, the singer showed her gratitude to the people who’ve helped her arrive at this moment. Here, every word Carey said on stage.
“I’m so nervous! Seriously, thank you Billboard for letting me grow up on the charts with you and for this incredible honor. Icon? I really don’t think of myself in that way. I started making music out of a necessity to survive and to express myself. And I just wanted to create something so I could feel worthy of existing. And if I’ve learned anything, anything at all in this life, it’s that truly all things are possible with God.
Without getting into all the drama, all the ups and downs of my career—we’ve all seen them, we all make mistakes—there’s been a few memes [laughs]. I guess I’ve always felt like an outsider. Someone who doesn’t quite belong anywhere. And I still feel like that lost interracial child who had a lot of nerve to believe I could succeed in anything at all in this world. But, and this is the truth, but I did believe because I had to. The truth is I’ve dedicated my life to my music, my saving grace, and to my fans who are unlike any other entity that I’ve ever known. They’ve lifted me out of the depths of hell and brought me back with their devotion and love. I want to thank all the people who’ve been with me on this journey, through the highs and lows, through the struggles. Through your struggles and mine. And to anybody who doesn’t allow themselves to be broken. And keeps getting up, and keeps holding on, and keeps standing tall, keeps on believing and keeps rising—I celebrate you tonight. And to anyone who’s ever told me that a song I wrote helped save your life, I thank you because you saved mine. And I’ll be eternally grateful for that. I love you. Thank you so much.”