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Janet Jackson presents Mary J. Blige with Billboard Music’s Icon Award

Janet Jackson made a surprise appearance at Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards to present Mary J. Blige with the Icon Award. A variety of artists – including Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott and HER – sent their congratulations to the groundbreaking R&B singer in a montage accompanying the segment.

“Mary J. Blige represents truth. Her work has always given us comfort because she sings to me, she sings to you,” Jackson said, noting that Blige is “committed to her fans to always be authentic.”

The Grammy Award winner joins artists such as Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Cher, Mariah Carey, Garth Brooks – as well as Jackson – as the 11th recipient of the award.

“It takes a lot of time, a lot of hard work, and a lot of survival, trial and error to achieve greatness,” Blige said in her acceptance speech. “I’ve been on this journey for a long time, one that hasn’t always looked like what you see me now, one that’s filled with a lot of heartbreak and pain. God has helped me channel those emotions and experiences into my music. The singer also thanked a large number of collaborators, artists, industry executives and family members who contributed to her success as an artist.

Watch Blige’s acceptance speech below: