Rihanna took the Microsoft Theater stage on June 23 to present Mary J. Blige with the BET Lifetime Achievement Award. Hailing the legendary singer for her style and sound, Rihanna also made mention of Blige’s history-making two Oscar nominations in the same year, for best actress and original song for “Mudbound.”
Accepting the trophy, Blige told Rihanna, ” I don’t think you know how much I love and respect you. I’m a huge fan and you inspire me right back.”
Blige then gave a moving speech, in which she explained her resilience both in life and career. Said Blige: “People always ask, how do I sustain and stay relevant in this industry? It’s because, although I am a leader, a queen, and a living legend. … I’m a servant as well and I’m here to serve. Being a servant is not always glamorous or popular but it’s the job and the assignment that I was given. It’s because in order to be an authority, I had to learn how to come under authority because when the glory is placed on me I give it back to God immediately. This journey journey has always been bigger than me and my mission is not only just to survive right now, it’s to thrive and continue to make history while I do it.”
Read Rihanna’s introductory speech in its entirety below:
“What’s the 411? With one simple question, Uptown Records’ youngest female artist, Mary J. Blige, introduced herself to the world with a brand new vibe. Forever aligning the worlds of hip hop and R&B, she changed the game with her unique sound. And that Mary J style — the backwards cap, the knee pads, the baggy jerseys … y’all know the Mary J. look. And then she took it there … with those thigh-high boots.
And then there are the awards and the accolades. And making history as the first person ever nominated for an Oscar in an acting and music category in the same year.
Happy Mary. Sad Mary. Mad Mary. No more drama Mary. Dancing Mary. We’re here for all of it.
Mary J. Blige: you have set the bar for relatable, timeless, classic music. You opened multiple doors for female artists in this industry. And on behalf of all the women [who] came after you — like myself — thank you for being you ao we can feel comfortable being ourselves.
Thank you for pouring your soul into every track and giving us a song for every feeling. Thank you for showing us that love is all that we need. But we didn’t know how much we actually needed you.
Ladies and gentlemen, get on your feet right now. The recipient of the 2019 BET Lifetime Achievement Award: the undeniable Queen of hip-hop and R&B, Mary J. Blige.”